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The Post and Courier's parent to split into 3 separate companies

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Evening Post Industries is based in The Post and Courier Building is at 134 Columbus St. in Charleston. File/Staff

The parent of The Post and Courier is proposing to spin off its newspaper division and other subsidiaries into three separate businesses under a plan to realign the holdings of the family-owned company, it was announced April 5.

The restructuring of Charleston-based Evening Post Industries is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, CEO John Barnwell said.

None of the businesses is being sold, he said.

Under the reorganization, Evening Post Industries will capitalize the companies before spinning them off as independent standalone ventures with separate management and boards of directors.

“They’re not going to be under the same corporate umbrella we have now,” Barnwell said. Members of the Manigault, Gilbreth and Herres families will remain as shareholders, but their ownership stakes will decline or increase based on their individual preferences and business interests.

Many of the details are still being finalized, Barnwell said.

“This company split will allow the principal owners to better align their interests while maintaining a very high degree of stable and well-known management continuity,” he said.

The holding company, which dates back to 1896, eventually will be dissolved.

The Post and Courier and the other papers that Evening Post Industries owns will be one of the spinoffs. It will be led by Pierre Manigault, who is currently chairman of the parent company. The news group also will operate a book publisher and White Oak Forestry, which owns and manages timberland, mostly in the Georgetown area.

The other standalone businesses will be focused on real estate development projects, primarily in Charleston and Georgetown, and on the health field, including Heart of Hospice and a pharmaceutical firm.

All three companies will be run by the same executives who already manage them day-to-day.

The transaction requires the approval of shareholders, who will probably vote on it this summer. The majority of investors of the closely held company support the split, said Barnwell, who will retire when the transition is finalized after about 12 years as chief executive officer.

The ownership shift marks one of the most significant restructurings within Evening Post Industries since 1991, when the company combined The News and Courier and The Evening Post to form The Post and Courier.

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“We’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years,” Barnwell said.

The current generation of principal family shareholders began looking harder at the idea after Evening Post Industries sold its 16 television stations for $591 million in 2019.

“That had a lot to do with it because we received a lot of liquidity and distributed a lot of liquidity. ... But we also have a fair amount of liquidity left at the corporate level,” Barnwell said.

Some of the leftover proceeds from the TV station sales will be used to finance the restructuring plan.

“There’s going to be investment capital in all of the companies,” Barnwell said.

As an example, he said, “a fair amount” will be allocated toward the newspaper group, which includes the Summerville Journal Scene, the Aiken Standard and The Post and Courier’s new expansion offices in Columbia, Greenville and Myrtle Beach.

“Enough money to sustain the business for a pretty good amount of time,” Barnwell said.

After the split, he added, the spinoffs will no longer have to compete with each other for funding at the corporate level, allowing them to budget and invest based on their own needs.

“It makes everybody’s interests a lot more clear,” Barnwell said.

The restructuring coincides with, but isn’t tied to, a recently announced plan by Evening Post Industries to vacate its longtime headquarters at 134 Columbus St., which will be razed and redeveloped.

The decision to move followed the company’s plan to replace the huge press inside the nearly 70-year-old building and install the newly acquired printing machinery at another site in the Charleston region. Lease negotiations are still in the works for the new location.

The eventual closing of 134 Columbus was expected to eliminate a small but undisclosed number of jobs throughout the company, Barnwell said. The Sept. 30 restructuring goal will likely accelerate those cuts.

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or follow him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott

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