Challenging the Wisdom of the Trans Texas Corridor.

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Macquarie Media Group
Buys Into Texas Market


As most people know is not inclined to jump on conspiracy theories, especially since there's more than enough well documented questionable activity to keep us very busy.

The recent offer by Macquarie Media Group to purchase American Consolidated Media (including Valley Newspapers Holdings) certainly provides new fertile ground for the development of a host of conspiracy theories. And in the end they might bear more truth than fiction.

TOLLROADSnews says, "The notion that Macquarie would buy influence through buying a bunch of small newspapers sounds far-fetched to us." They go on to comment that the truth is probably boring, "But anything's possible, we suppose." At we have to agree that anything is possible, but so far the truth has been anything but boring.

Without jumping to conclusions let's look at the facts we know.

  • Macquarie Media Group (MMG) and Macquarie Infrastructure Group (MIG) are subsidiaries of the same Australian parent company, Macquarie Bank.

  • Macquarie Infrastructure Group is aggressively pursuing infrastructure investments in the Texas. Together with their Spanish partner Cintra, Macquarie has already engaged in large projects including the Indiana Toll Road, Chicago Skyway, and 407 ETR. With Cintra having the lead role with Texas on TTC-35 it is certainly plausible that Macquarie is a potential financial partner as individual facility development agreements are negotiated. In such scenario Macquarie has a vested interest in seeing the TTC continue to move forward.

  • This is the first newspaper acquisition ever initiated in North America by MMG. Interestingly the ACM newspaper holdings being purchased are heavily peppered along the routes actively under consideration for TTC-35 and TTC-69 toll roads through south, central and east Texas.

  • The Dallas Morning News reported, "Edward Atorino, media analyst at New York-based research firm Benchmark Co., said the $80 million price tag represents the high end of the range for newspaper properties today." That industry insider analysis flies in the face of those who have suggested these newspapers were going cheap.

  • Toll road projects in Canada, Illinois and Indiana, while not necessarily popular, have not generated the kind of vocal public opposition they have experienced in Texas.

  • The TTC is wildly unpopular, particularly in rural Texas. TxDOT held 55 public hearings in the summer of 2006 which 13,632 attended. More than 90 percent of the 1,073 who spoke at those hearings did so in strong opposition. MORE>>

  • Rural Texas is a very tough market to reach. Local radio and newspapers provide the only consistent and cost-effective coverage available. Organized and well funded pro-toll business and industry groups like Texans for Reliable Safe Transportation have limited success in getting their pro-toll editorials into these community newspapers. Likewise, public relations efforts by TxDOT have met with less than desired levels of acceptance.

All of this generates more questions than answers.

Why buy small community newspaper in Texas (and some of Oklahoma)? Why now?

It will be interesting to see how MMG expands their Texas newspaper empire, more specifically their geographic coverage. We will also be watching to see how receptive these publications become to pro-toll editorials in the future. If these fears develop into reality we stand ready to remove the theory label from the conspiracy claim. 



07.01.30 MIG in toll road pursuit of Texas

Macquire Media Group (MMG) Website

PR: Acquisition of American Consolidated Media


Sal Costello: Toll Road Conglomerate Silences Nagging Texas Newspapers by Purchasing Newspaper Group.


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