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Freedom Papers Reject Hoiles’ Takeover Bid

December 12, 1985

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ Freedom Newspapers Inc., which operates 29 newspapers and four television stations, has rejected $670 million bid for two-thirds of the company.

At the same time, the company said Wednesday it intends to defend itself against the possibility of Harry Hoiles selling his stock publicly, as he threatened in October to do if his offer was rejected. Hoiles, who has made two previous bids for the stock this year, controls one-third of the company.

R. David Threshie, publisher of the company’s flagship paper, the Orange County Register, and a member of the executive committee of Freedom Newspapers, declined Thursday to describe what action might be taken.

John Humphreyville, a first vice president of Hoiles’ investment banker, Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc., said in Los Angeles that no negotiations to sell the stock publicly were under way.

But he added, ″The market is very good. We have been approached by several people. In light of recent developments, I expect we will pursue them.″

The company’s rejection of Hoiles’ $108-per-share offer was the latest salvo in a dispute between Hoiles and his relatives over control of the company.

Should Hoiles sell his holdings publicly, it would end six decades of private ownership by the late Raymond Hoiles, his descendants and their families.

Harry Hoiles’ offer was the third to be rejected by the company this year. The others were for $96 and $98 a share.

Other family members have said the company wasn’t for sale.

Hoiles has been feuding with family members since the late 1970s. The dispute began after Hoiles, then publisher of the group’s Colorado Springs, Colo., newspaper, was passed over for the post of company chairman.

In 1982, he sued Freedom Newspapers, contending he should be given one- third of the company’s assets in exchange for his stock. That suit is expected to come to trial in April. Also in 1982, the majority shareholders offered to buy out Hoiles for $74.2 million, an offer he rejected.

Since Freedom is privately owned, it doesn’t publish financial data. Analysts have estimated the company’s 1984 earnings were about $26.4 million.