Pierre Paquet, who founded the alternative weekly Voir in 1986, has sold it to a group composed of two of its managers, Michel Fortin (executive vice-president and general manager) and Hugues Mailhot (vice-president digital solutions), and investment company XPND Capital, owned by Alexandre Taillefer, better known as one of the dragons on Radio-Canada’s Dans l’oeil du dragon.
The purchase price wasn’t disclosed. It includes Voir editions in Montreal and Quebec (now biweekly and the only alternative weeklies left in those cities), plus Voir.ca, Boutique Voir, Guide Restos Voir and other related brands, plus distributor Diffumag and interior advertising network Panoramik.
Without knowing the price, it’s hard to say if this is good news or bad. But the continued involvement of current management will no doubt reassure its 50 or so employees. And Taillefer isn’t the kind of guy to invest in a doomed company.
Communications Voir had previously owned editions in Saguenay and Mauricie, as well as the English Montreal alt-weekly Hour. Those were all shut down in 2012. Sherbrooke and Gatineau editions followed in 2013.
UPDATE: Taillefer in interview with Radio-Canada. Suggests the purchase price was in the low seven-figures. And in an interview with La Presse, he says the big reason for buying the company was the Boutique Voir concept.
And also in La Presse, Nathalie Petrowski on Voir’s declining influence and Taillefer’s vague plans for rebuilding it.
Without knowing the price is it very hard to judge, but my guess is like this:
The print papers aren’t very valuable at this point, except perhaps as gateways to the voir.ca site. The investors I suspect are betting on the digital product and the other parts of the business, and not much at all on the dead tree edition.
I also suspect that Pierre Paquet, who has been sitting at the top of this all for 19 years understands that the whole deal is very much at a crossroads. They have cut back and closed about as much as they can do and still be active and visible. Selling right now (sooner would have been better) might be the only way left for him to extract some value out of the whole thing. He may also realize that he’s not exactly the guy to carry the torch into the digital age.
For me, it will be very interesting to see how short the lifespan of the print edition is. I personally would be pretty shocked to see it get past the end of the year, unless the investors are intending to put a whole lot of money up to massively raise the profile and distribution of the paper. The freebie weekly pick it up at the pharmacy and stuff concept seems about as out of date as a weekly inky can be.