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Postmedia to sell properties in B.C. and Alberta to cut costs, reduce debt

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

VANCOUVER - The publisher of some of Canada's largest English-language daily newspapers says it plans to sell two properties in British Columbia and Alberta in a bid to reduce costs and pay down debt.

Soon to go on the market will be the Kennedy Heights printing plant in Surrey, B.C., and the Calgary Herald building, announced Postmedia (TSX:PNC.B) newspapers Monday.

The Kennedy Heights plant produces the Vancouver Sun and the Province.

TC Transcontinental Printing will begin producing the Calgary Herald in November, and Postmedia said it has asked union representatives in Vancouver to "develop alternatives" to the Kennedy Heights plant.

A spokesperson for Postmedia could not be immediately reached for comment.

"Union officers will be consulting with our legal counsel and meeting with members to discuss our next steps," said Unifor local 2000, formerly the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, in an online statement.

The statement said union representatives were informed about the decision Monday by Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey, who presented two possible options.

One option for the company in British Columbia would be to open a new plant, but only if the company and the union could reach an agreement that would cut costs by 70 to 75 per cent. Such an agreement would need to be in place by mid-November, the union said.

If that doesn't happen, the union said the company plans to contract out printing to Transcontinental. The union said the company already has a contract in place with Transcontinental.

The union's statement noted its collective agreement stipulates "there will be no involuntary loss of employment of any regular employee during the life of the contract as a result of" contracting out.

Gary Engler, vice-president of Unifor local 2000, declined to elaborate on the statement but said members were going to meet at the plant Monday night.

Postmedia owns several newspapers, including the National Post, Vancouver Sun and the Ottawa Citizen.

The media company announced in July it recorded a loss of $112.2 million in the most recent quarter. Its operating loss was $95.6 million, compared to an operating income of $4.1 million in the third quarter of 2012.

In July, Moody's Investors Service downgraded Postmedia's rating to negative from stable due to the media company's declining cash flow as it transitions to a digital business.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/the-canadian-press/130910/postmedia-sell-properties-bc-and-alberta-cut-costs-reduce-de