Tribune Publishing, publisher of the Chicago Tribune and other major newspapers, has agreed to be acquired by Alden Global Capital in a deal valued at $630 million, according to a report in the Tribune.
Announced Feb. 16 after the stock market closed, the deal would create one of the largest newspaper operators in the United States, according to the Tribune. It follows weeks of negotiations between a special committee of Tribune Publishing’s board and Alden, a hedge fund with a history of deep cost-cutting at its other newspaper properties.
As part of the deal, The Sun and its affiliates are set to be acquired by a nonprofit formed by Takoma Park businessman and philanthropist Stewart Bainum, Jr., restoring the Sun to Maryland ownership for the first time since 1986.
In addition to the Chicago Tribune, Tribune Publishing owns the Baltimore Sun; the Hartford (Connecticut) Courant; the Orlando (Florida) Sentinel; the South Florida Sun Sentinel; New York Daily News; the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland; The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania; the Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia; and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia.
“The Sun is a Maryland institution with a proud history, and an employer of hundreds of Marylanders,” Mike Ricci, a spokesman for Governor Larry Hogan, said in a statement to The Baltimore Sun. “We wish the paper great success as it returns to being locally-owned, and continues to carry out the work of the free press.”
The $630 million transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021 if Tribune shareholders approve it.
“Over the past year, the Company has taken a number of actions to adapt to an ever-changing business and industry environment, including the impact of COVID-19,” Philip Franklin, Tribune Publishing board chair and a member of the special committee, said in a news release. “These actions included strengthening the Company’s financial position, driving digital growth and investing in high-quality content to better serve customers, employees and communities. This positioning enabled the special committee to negotiate a premium, all-cash price, which the committee concluded was superior to the available alternatives.”
Bainum was a member of Maryland’s House of Delegates from 1979 to 1982 and a member of the state Senate from 1983 to 1986. He also has led HCR Manor Care, Vitalink Pharmacy Services and Sunburst Hospitality.
Bainum joined another of his father’s businesses, ManorCare, in 1972, and pushed the company to expand rapidly and grow into one of the largest nursing home companies in the U.S. Bainum still serves as chairman of Choice Hotels and the list of businesses where Bainum and his family are currently or formerly involved includes Artis Senior Living, Vitalink Pharmacy Services, Sunburst Hospitality and SunBridge Capital Management.