After weeks of rumors, Penton Media announced today that it is buying Lebhar-Friedman’s flagship title, Nation’s Restaurant News.

Randall Friedman, publisher of Nation’s Restaurant News, is joining Penton as market leader of the Penton Restaurant Group, which will include Nation’s Restaurant News as well as Penton’s own Restaurant Hospitality and Food Management. Nation’s Restaurant News will be located in Penton’s New York City headquarters, while Restaurant Hospitality and Food Management will continue to operate out of Cleveland.

The NRN sale, as well as the reported shopping of Lebhar’s Dowden Health Media, is seen as part of a plan to pay back GE Capital, which financed Lebhar’s estimated $40 million acquisition of Dowden Health Media in 2005. In 2006, Dowden Health Media founder Carroll Dowden bought back the consumer magazine division of Dowden Health Media (which included four regional titles with combined revenue of under $10 million). Last year, Lebhar-Friedman sold Dowden Professional Publications to Quadrant HealthCom Inc.

With the sale of NRN, Lebhar-Friedman retains four retail-focused publications: Home Channel News, Chain Store Age, Retailing Today and Drug Store News.