The Australian investment company that leased the Indiana
Toll Road in 2006 is used to being in the headlines. It happens often.
And even though the headlines Macquarie made this week in
Texas were not directly related to any toll road, critics of one of the
company's recent business ventures are drawing a parallel.
Macquarie Media Group has purchased 40 community newspapers
in Texas for $80 million, according to Editor
worry that a control of media by companies that own toll roads may lead to a
spin of information. Many of the small papers included in the purchase have
been critical of the privatization of U.S. highways, according to the Bonham Journal, an affected newspaper
that has been particularly critical of the Trans-Texas Corridor.
roads will be under control of foreign investors, which more than frustrates
Texans," the newspaper reported in November 2006.
Truckers know the Macquarie company name from the toll-road
subsidiary called Macquarie Infrastructure Group - which is part of an
expanding web of investment groups spun by the parent company, Macquarie Bank.
The company arm that invests in media purchased the
newspapers Wednesday from American Consolidated Media and its principal
investor, Halyard Capital, according to the reports.
American Consolidated Media's group of 40 community
newspapers was founded by Dallas Morning
News President Jeremy L. Halbreich, who was quoted in Editor and Publisher as saying Macquarie was interested in
"expanding the platform (it) already (has) in the local community papers
The papers are mainly small, community papers averaging
5,000 in circulation.
Critics of the purchase and of the buyer say the deal could
be an attempt to control information about privatized toll roads in small Texas
The Lone Star State has a number of controversial proposals
making their own headlines.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has his sights on the proposed
Trans-Texas Corridor consisting of a quarter-mile-wide swath of truck-only toll
lanes, railway lines and multiple traffic lanes from the Mexican border to the
Oklahoma state line.
Although Macquarie is not involved in that corridor
proposal, its partner in the Indiana Toll Road lease is - Cintra Concessiones
de Infraestructuras de Transporte S.A. of Spain.
Together, Cintra and Macquarie also operate the Chicago
Skyway in Illinios and the 407 Express Toll Route in Ontario, Canada.
Macquarie Infrastructure Group operates the privately built
South Bay Expressway in San Diego and the Dulles Greenway in Virginia near
The acquisition of American newspapers was the first of its
kind for Macquarie doing business in North America. Macquarie's media
subsidiaries own several media companies around the world, including BBC
Broadcast in the United Kingdom.
Parent company Macquarie Bank reported the purchase of
American Consolidated Media to its shareholders this week, according to Editor and Publisher. Macquarie Bank is
publicly traded on the Australian Stock Exchange.
- By David Tanner,