Tribune agrees to purchase by hedge fund Alden Global Capital for $630 million

The newspaper publisher Tribune has agreed to be sold to hedge fund Alden Global Capital 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.

Alden became Tribune Publishing’s largest shareholder in 2019; it holds a 32 percent stake. The hedge fund controls one of the country’s largest newspaper chains, MediaNews Group, whose holding include the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Boston Herald, Denver Post and San Jose Mercury News.

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 percent of Tribune Publishing, and shareholder Mason Slaine, a former media executive who owns about 8 percent, according to the Chicago Tribune. Slaine and a representative for Soon-Shiong did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Tribune said the purchase price represents a premium of 45 percent 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.

Tribune journalists have spoken up about their fears of Alden’s influence and control over their papers. Alden is known for cutting costs and shrinking newsrooms at the newspapers it acquires to squeeze out profits.

The unions at Tribune papers have pushed for alternative buyers for the company’s papers.

In a statement, Alden said: “Our commitment to ensuring the sustainability of robust local journalism is well established and this is part of that effort.”

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