Hedge Fund Buys Tribune Publishing Company For $633M

Hedge Fund Buys Tribune Publishing Company For $633M

Shareholders in Tribune Publishing Company (TPCO) have accepted a $633 million acquisition proposal from the hedge fund Alden Global Capital.

What Happened: Tribune Publishing has media operations in eight markets and its best-known publications include the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, The Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant and Orlando Sentinel.

Alden, which owns a 32% stake in Tribune, initially planned to purchase all of the media company’s assets then sell the Baltimore Sun and two smaller Maryland newspapers for $65 million to a nonprofit controlled by Stewart W. Bainum Jr., the chairman of Choice Hotels International Inc (CHH), a company with brands including Comfort Inn, Quality Inn and MainStay Suites.

Alden and Bainum were unable to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, with Bainum deciding to bypass the hedge fund and seek ownership of the publishing company directly. Tribune rejected Bainum’s offer last month chose Alden and its corporate suitor.

Why It Matters: Alden owns Digital First Media, one of the country’s largest newspaper chains, with assets including the Boston Herald, the Denver Post and the San Jose Mercury News.

Within the media industry, Alden gained a reputation for slashing the number of newsroom employees at the publications it owns. A February 2020 profile in Vanity Fair identified Alden as the “hedge fund vampire that bleeds newspapers dry.”

According to Detroit News coverage, Tribune journalists lobbied Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of the Los Angeles Times and the company’s second-largest shareholder via his 24% ownership stake, to vote against the Alden offer. Gregory Pratt, head of the Chicago Tribune Guild, a labor union for journalists, sent a public letter to Soon-Shiong warning that “Alden as top shareholder is an ongoing crisis, but Alden in full control will likely destroy Tribune publications.”

But Soon-Shiong abstained from voting, citing his view of Tribune as a “passive investment.”

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