Offer for Tribune Publishing Attracts Another Investor

From a Wall Street Journal story by Lukas I. Alpert headlined “Offer for Tribune Attracts Another Investor”:

A Florida investor has expressed interest in joining an 11th-hour effort by a Maryland hotel magnate to acquire Tribune Publishing Co. and wrest the company away from hedge fund Alden Global Capital.

Mason Slaine, a technology investor and minority shareholder in Tribune, told The Wall Street Journal he is willing to put up $100 million toward a bid being put together by Stewart Bainum, chairman of Choice Hotels International.

Mr. Slaine, who owns a 3.4% stake in Tribune, said he would make the personal investment in order to acquire the publisher’s two Florida newspapers, the Orlando Sentinel and the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale.

“I am a Florida resident and I believe heartily in strong investigative journalism as a necessary part of creating a safe and honest society,” he wrote to a group of reporters at the Orlando newspaper….

Over the weekend, Mr. Bainum’s effort received a major boost when Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss said he was committing $100 million to the potential bid with the intention of ultimately taking control of the Chicago Tribune.

“I don’t want to see another newspaper that has a chance to increase the amount of truth being told to the American people going down the drain,” Mr. Wyss told the New York Times.

New York-based Alden, which owns about 32% of Tribune, has offered $17.25 per share for the rest of the company, valuing it at about $635 million. Tribune’s board last week recommended to shareholders that they accept the bid.

Alden has been a lighting rod for criticism in the newspaper industry for its cost-cutting. That has sparked protests by employees outside its New York headquarters and pleas by reporters in more than one city for someone else to acquire their papers….

Mr. Slaine had purchased about 8% of Tribune’s shares in early 2020 and expressed his interest in acquiring the Sun Sentinel newspaper. Recently, he had begun selling down his stake as the outlook for such a deal dimmed.

“I had given up but when I saw this weekend that Mr. Wyss had put some momentum behind this, I decided to re-engage and join this fight,” Mr. Slaine said.

Mr. Bainum’s main interest in Tribune is the Baltimore Sun. He had an agreement with Alden to acquire assets including the Sun for $65 million following an Alden takeover of Tribune. That deal fell apart over disagreements about the cost of services Tribune would continue to provide following the split.

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