Cox Enterprises, the US family-owned media company, has agreed the sale of 13 newspapers to another privately-owned family company, Cooke Communications.
The sale includes three daily publications and 10 weeklies, all based in North Carolina, US.
In a statement released today John Kent Cooke, son of the billionaire founder of Cooke Communications Jack Kent Cooke, said: "We will continue the strong tradition of family-owned independent newspapers serving these communities of eastern North Carolina." The statement went on to say that Cooke anticipated "virtually all employees will be retained under the new ownership."
Cox has been seeking buyers for many of its smaller newspapers since 2008 as a decline in readership and advertising has meant decreased profits across its print publications.
The company was founded by James M Cox in 1898 on the strength of a single daily title, the Daytona Evening News. Cox's grandson James C Kennedy is the chairman of the business that now has revenues of $15 billion and interests in media, communications and automotive services.
Cooke Communications is currently headed by John Kent Cooke and is the product of his father's media interests. Jack Kent Cooke (pictured), who is more famous for his ownership of sports teams than his media interests, owned several publications including the Los Angeles Daily News. Upon his death in 1997 most of his assets were placed in trust to form the John Kent Cooke Foundation, aimed at helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds receive the highest level of education possible.
John took over his father's media interests after his death but sold his share of the Los Angeles Daily news in 1997 and the company now publishes a range of titles in the Key West area of Florida.
John's son John Kent Cooke Jr is to take over the new acquisitions in North Carolina.