Business Publisher To Be Sold

May 18, 1994|By David Conn | David Conn,Sun Staff Writer

The owner of the Daily Record Co., one of Maryland's oldest family-run businesses, has agreed to sell the 106-year-old news and printing company to a Minneapolis legal and business newspaper publisher.

Edwin Warfield IV said yesterday that he has signed a letter of intent to sell the company, publisher of the Daily Record newspaper and the weekly Warfield's Business Record, to Dolan Media Co., which owns several legal and business publications in the Midwest. The all-cash deal is expected to be completed within the next few days, Mr. Warfield said. The terms were not disclosed.

Warfield's circulation is about 8,800, while the newspaper, which appears Monday through Saturday, has about 5,500 subscribers. The company has 55 employees and annual revenues of about $6 million, according to Mr. Warfield.

Mr. Warfield, 40, moved to West Palm Beach, Fla., late last year and said he is pursuing several business opportunities in the legal publishing field. He said that after 11 years at the helm of the paper he is ready for a change.

"The fact is, I have an offer I can't refuse and an opportunity I can't refuse," he said, declining to name the newspapers he is considering. He'll also serve as a consultant to Dolan, and said he hopes to be "a part of their future," although nothing specific has been worked out yet.

Replacing Mr. Warfield as publisher and president of the Daily Record Co. will be Richard H. Groves. Until April, Mr. Groves, 59, was president and publisher of Legal Communications Ltd., which publishes the Legal Intelligencer in Philadelphia, the country's oldest court and commercial newspaper.

He joins Dolan Media, a 2-year-old venture started by newspaper industry veteran James P. Dolan. Dolan Media publishes the Finance and Commerce in Minneapolis, and this year bought the (Milwaukee) Daily Reporter. Mr. Dolan, 44, previously was with a New York investment banking firm, and before that was an executive with the Chicago Sun-Times and with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. He has worked for newspapers in New York, Boston, San Antonio, London and Sydney, Australia.

Mr. Dolan, in an interview from Minneapolis yesterday, promised Daily Record and Warfield's readers "more of the same. We are nearly in love with the newspapers that are published there. We plan to invest more money and more resources in the editorial product."

"We want all the people and all the talent to stay there, and we plan to hire more," said Mr. Dolan.

One priority will be a bigger investment in electronic and computer-based information products, he said.

"I think Jim Dolan's ownership represents not only a positive development for the company, but for our readers, advertisers and the community," Mr. Warfield said.

He said the sale "is not a story of the loss of family ownership. . . . This is good for the community."

But the deal will close a more than century-old chapter in Maryland's newspaper industry for the Warfield family, a name associated with publishing and politics since 1888. The company, which at one time had as many as 80 outside shareholders, has been controlled and managed by four generations of Warfields.

The Daily Record was started by Mr. Warfield's great-grandfather, Edwin Warfield, a banker, farmer and lawyer who also founded and ran the Fidelity & Deposit Co. and served a term as Maryland governor starting in 1904.

Mr. Warfield IV, who grew up in New Jersey, took over in 1983 from his father, Maj. Gen. Edwin Warfield III, a World War II pilot, former state delegate and former adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard.

The current chairman spent much of the 1980s expanding the paper's business coverage and consolidating his ownership of the company. In 1989, three years after launching what was then the monthly Warfield's magazine, he completed a leveraged buyout of the remaining 50-plus outside shareholders.

The magazine, which won several design and content awards, suffered financial problems as the recession hit Maryland, and it went through several changes before settling into its current weekly format.

The company owns its building on Saratoga Street and also offers commercial printing services from its Key Highway printing plant.

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