Kathleen McLaughlin
The Bulletin

With financial backing from unnamed Bend residents, an Oregon newspaper company hopes to outbid two others for The Bulletin and Redmond Spokesman.

EO Media Group, publisher of 11 newspapers from the Wallowas to the Oregon Coast, is offering $2.5 million for Bend’s daily newspaper and its weekly sister publication in Redmond, according to a notice filed Monday in U.S. District Court of Oregon.

The Bulletin’s parent company, Western Communications, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January and is in the process of selling all of its assets.

“There’s strong support from the community for us to acquire The Bulletin,” said Heidi Wright, chief operating officer of EO Media Group, or East Oregonian Publishing Co.

“Key community leaders” offered to back a bid by EO Media Group after Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers Inc. came forward in June with an offer of $2.25 million, Wright said. “They are supportive of our efforts to be the successful bidder coming out of the auction.”

An auction will be held July 29 in the Portland office of Tonkon Torp LLP, which represents Western Communications. A hearing is scheduled later that day in U.S. District Court.

“We would be foolish to think we’re the only party that can be successful next week,” Wright said.

One other company, Adams Publishing Group, also bid on the Central Oregon newspapers.

“We think it’s a good product and a good community with a great reputation,” said Eric Johnston, western division president for Adams, which owns the Herald & News in Klamath Falls and Lake County Examiner in Lakeview. “We think it fits well with the Adams footprint.”

Adams owns 27 daily and 100 nondaily newspapers across the country. CEO Mark Adams started the publishing company in 2013 and began acquiring newspapers the following year. Members of the Adams family also own billboard, radio, wine and recreational vehicle businesses.

EO Media Group has been publishing newspapers since 1905. The company recently bought two other Western Communications newspapers, the Baker City Herald and The Observer in La Grande, out of bankruptcy.

“There are a lot of reasons this makes sense for our company,” Wright said of acquiring The Bulletin.

EO Media Group’s offer includes the Bend printing press at 1777 SW Chandler Ave. The press would be removed from the building within 90 days, according to a proposed lease agreement filed with the court. Wright said she doesn’t know yet where the press would move.

Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers has also acquired a former Western Communications publication, the Union Democrat in Sonora, California, out of bankruptcy. RISN offered $1.15 million for the newspaper and its downtown office building.

EO Media Group would deliver offers of employment to identified employees no later than five business days before the deal closes, according to an asset purchase agreement filed in court. The closing date will be no later than five days after the court enters an order of sale.

— Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected. A previous version misspelled Eric Johnston’s name.

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