Tribune Deal Alarms Journalists

Newspaper publishing company agrees to be purchased by hedge fund
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 17, 2021 12:42 AM CST
Tribune Deal Alarms Journalists
In this April 12, 2006, file photo, flags wave near the Chicago Tribune Tower in downtown Chicago.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

The newspaper publisher Tribune has agreed to be sold to Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund known for cutting costs and eliminating newsroom jobs, in a deal valued at $630 million. Tribune Publishing Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, the Baltimore Sun, and other newspapers, said Tuesday it has agreed to sell its shares to Alden for $17.25 apiece in cash, the AP reports. Alden became Tribune Publishing’s largest shareholder in 2019; it holds a 32% stake. The hedge fund owns MediaNews Group, one of the country’s largest newspaper chains; its papers include the Boston Herald, the Denver Post, and the San Jose Mercury News. Tribune said the purchase price represents a premium of 45% to the closing price of Tribune's shares on Dec. 11, the last trading day before the company received Alden’s proposal. Tribune's board has approved the deal, which is expected to close in the second quarter.

The Baltimore Sun is not included in the deal. It will be sold to a nonprofit formed by businessman and philanthropist Stewart Bainum Jr. that will run the paper "for the benefit of the community," the Sun wrote on Tuesday. The success of the Tribune deal hinges on securing the votes of biotech billionaire and Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, who owns about 24% of Tribune Publishing, and shareholder Mason Slaine, a former media executive who owns about 8%, according to the Chicago Tribune. Slaine and a representative for Soon-Shiong did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. Tribune journalists have spoken up about their fears of Alden’s influence and control over their papers.The unions at Tribune papers have pushed for alternative buyers for the company’s papers.

(Read more Tribune Publishing stories.)

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