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Case study

Turning around a major newspaper publisher

With the digital era threatening the survival of newspapers, a major publishing chain was hemorrhaging cash as circulation and revenue plummeted. Bain helped News PublisherCo quickly develop a turnaround strategy that reduced costs, replenished its cash reserves and boosted earnings, making it a rare industry success story.

  • min read

At a Glance

  • In 18 months we improved net earnings, eliminated debt and replenished cash reserves
  • 200% increase in stock prices above the closest competitor

The Full Story


Like many of its competitors, News PublisherCo* was burdened with debt as new online media and advertising rivals battered its historically profitable business. The US publishing company owned daily newspapers in large metropolitan markets as well as specialty publications and diverse websites.

For generations, the family-run enterprise had weathered industry ups and downs, but the owners found themselves unable to adapt to the realities of the digital media era. The company’s financial situation further deteriorated when the recession hit, leaving News PublisherCo with virtually no cash on hand, drawing down its loans and re-negotiating them to stay in business.



Collaborating closely with the CEO and senior management team, Bain served as a financial advisor, developing a comprehensive turnaround plan that tackled three pivotal challenges:

Stronger financial management: We evaluated ways to improve cash flow forecasting and reporting, reviewed the company’s loans and assessed its real estate assets.

Refocused business strategy: Together, we developed strategic initiatives that focused resources on News PublisherCo's core publications and innovated new digital opportunities.

Improved operations: We identified ways to reduce costs and generate additional revenue.



We recommended that the CEO take several immediate steps to enhance financial management, reduce costs, and innovate new sources of revenue. We worked collaboratively to:

  • Establish company-wide cash flow forecasting and reporting processes with clearly defined roles and responsibilities and improved visibility; introduce business unit level cash flows to increase accountability.
  • Negotiate loan amendments.
  • Re-align resources by selling off unneeded real estate assets and non-core publications.
  • Replace disappearing advertising revenue by launching digital businesses and growing contract printing.
  • Shift from a traditional advertising model based on circulation to one based on results delivered.
  • Streamline operations and reduce the workforce for cost savings; increase subscription prices.



By linking strategic and operational initiatives to stronger financial management, News PublisherCo has returned to profitability, with one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry. The company now has a foundation in place to transition into the digital age. While News PublisherCo's financial transformation reflects an improving economy, the results are dramatic. In just 18 months, the company has:

  • Improved net earnings by with quick cost reductions
  • Eliminated debt
  • Replenished cash reserves

News PublisherCo's turnaround has helped restore investor confidence. Since our engagement, its stock has rocketed up over 500 percent, compared to 300 percent for its closest competitors.

* We take our clients' confidentiality seriously. While we've changed their names, the results are real.

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