New Media Investment Group Inc. announced Thursday afternoon it has agreed to buy Halifax Media Group, owner of The Gadsden Times, The Tuscaloosa News and 34 other newspapers and affiliated websites.

The publicly traded company said it would pay $280 million in cash for Halifax, subject to adjustments. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015.

“This is a very exciting day for our company,” said Michael E. Reed, president and CEO of New Media.

His company operates in more than 370 markets across 27 states.

Carmage Walls, the late president of Southern Newspapers Inc. — parent company of the Times-Journal — made The Gadsden Times the first newspaper he ever owned, in 1946. Later the Public Welfare Foundation owned it until The New York Times Co. bought the Gadsden and Tuscaloosa papers in 1985.

The Times Co. sold 16 newspapers to Florida-based Halifax for $143 million in early 2012.

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