Tribune agrees to purchase by hedge fund for USD630M

CHICAGO (AP) — 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 USD630 million.

Tribune Publishing Co, which owns the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, the Baltimore Sun and other newspapers, said on Tuesday it has agreed to sell its shares to Alden for USD17.25 apiece, in cash.

Alden became Tribune Publishing’s largest shareholder in 2019; it holds a 32-per-cent stake. The hedge fund owns one of the country’s largest newspaper chains; its papers include the Boston Herald, the Denver Post and the San Jose Mercury News.

The Baltimore Sun is not included in the deal. It will be sold to a non-profit 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 per cent of Tribune Publishing, and shareholder Mason Slaine, a former media executive who owns about eight per cent, according to the Chicago Tribune. Slaine and a representative for Soon-Shiong did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Tribune said the purchase price represents a premium of 45 per cent to the closing price of Tribune’s shares on December 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.

Flags wave near the Chicago Tribune Tower in downtown Chicago. PHOTO: AP