August 15, 2020

Hedge Fund’s Run at Tribune Publishing Ends With a New Board Seat

“The newspapers should really be owned by the local communities,” Mr. Slaine, a former chief executive of Thomson Financial, said in an interview last month.

Mr. Slaine, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., added that he had some interest in buying The Sun Sentinel of South Florida, a Tribune Publishing paper.

In 2018, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a billionaire medical entrepreneur, bought The Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune and other California papers from Tribune Publishing, then known as Tronc, for $500 million. Dr. Soon-Shiong is the second-largest shareholder in Tribune Publishing, with about a quarter of its shares.

Wall Street ownership of newspapers has become common, and Alden helped drive that trend since the Great Recession, when it started grabbing stakes in distressed media companies.

Last year, in a deal financed by the private equity firm Apollo Global Management, the newspaper chain Gannett was acquired by the parent company of GateHouse Media to form a giant that publishes more than 250 dailies. The resulting company, called Gannett, is controlled by another private equity fund, Fortress Investment Group, which is owned by the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank.

McClatchy, another chain, is likely to emerge from the bankruptcy it declared this year into the hands of its largest bondholder, the hedge fund Chatham Asset Management.

Alden itself recently disclosed a significant stake in the newspaper chain Lee Enterprises.

Tribune Publishing fell into bankruptcy a decade ago, shortly after it was bought by the Chicago billionaire Sam Zell. In 2016, the private equity firm Merrick Ventures became the largest shareholder in the company. Its chairman, Michael W. Ferro Jr., oversaw extensive job cuts before stepping down in 2018, after two women accused him of unwanted sexual advances.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/02/business/media/tribune-alden-board-seat.html

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