Pinnacle Media Ltd, owned by long-time Island residents and publishing entrepreneurs David and Vicki Legge, announced on Wednesday the purchase of Cayman Free Press Ltd.
The acquisition, in negotiation for many months, includes the daily Caymanian Compass, a stable of magazines, a commercial printing business and other related companies.
“We are delighted to be moving forward and are looking ahead to serving the Islands and the people of Cayman,” Mr. Legge said. “We believe this is good news, not only for us, but for the company and the wider community.”
Mrs. Legge echoed the sentiment, anticipating developments and looking forward to new growth for the company.
“We will remain the authoritative voice of the Cayman Islands. Readers and advertisers can look forward to continuity as well as positive changes in the future,” she said.
Acquisition efforts started several months ago, initiated by the Legges, whose Pinnacle Publishing and Marketing has published the semi-annual Grand Cayman Magazine since 1995 (and its predecessor Britannia Magazine).
On acquiring Cayman Free Press, Pinnacle Publishing has been renamed Pinnacle Media Ltd. Grand Cayman Magazine will be integrated into the new company structure.
Sidebar: Meet the new publishers
Brian Uzzell, who has been majority shareholder of Cayman Free Press since 1974, will remain a consultant to the new proprietors, aiding the transition.
“It is difficult to say goodbye,” he said, “but I am confident I am leaving the company in very good – exceptional, in fact – hands. It has been a long, challenging and very rewarding journey for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, particularly watching the company develop and grow through the years.
“It is time, however, for me to step down and move on. I am looking forward to my eventual retirement,” Mr. Uzzell said.
The former publisher and general manager has faced a series of challenges in the past few years, contributing to his decision to step back from daily management. In 2004, Category 5 Hurricane Ivan nearly destroyed the physical plant, forcing a six-month suspension of on-island publishing and a massive restoration effort, resolved only in March 2005.
“There was an initial moment when my heart sank when I first saw the complex after the storm,” he says, describing the sight of the three Compass Drive buildings. “But CFP is my purpose and legacy and we were there to do a job and we got it done.”
With strong financial support from local banks, Mr. Uzzell rebuilt the organisation, improving the company’s titles, initiating an online presence in 2004. A new printing press was acquired in 1981.
Nearly three years ago, however, Mr. Uzzell, 77, suffered a heart attack playing hockey at Camana Bay. Rushed to a Miami hospital, he began pondering the future of his family and company, ultimately renewing long-simmering talks with the Legges.
“We were insistent on keeping the local newspaper in local hands, something Brian also felt strongly about,” Mr. Legge said. “We decided to buy Cayman Free Press on our own – without the participation of outside shareholders or partners. Moving forward, Pinnacle Media will be the 100 per cent owner of Cayman Free Press.”
Mr. Legge will serve as publisher and editor-in-chief, ably assisted by Tammie C. Chisholm, long-standing editor of the Caymanian Compass. Mrs. Legge will serve as co-publisher of the Compass and the other publications.
“My wife Vicki and I pledge our talents, our energy and our resources to producing for these Islands not just a great newspaper, but a newspaper that is great by the best of world standards,” Mr. Legge said. “Cayman has a great story to tell and we want to tell it not just to those who live here, but to the wider world as well. More on that in due course …”
“We recognise that the changeover signals a new era in publishing in the Cayman Islands,” he said. “We are committed to building on the legacy that Brian Uzzell has passed onto us, creating an organisation that will endure for decades to come.”