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Tribune agrees to buy from hedge fund for $ 630 million

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CHICAGO (AP) Tribune newspaper publisher has agreed to be sold to Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund known to cut costs and eliminate newsroom jobs, in a deal valued at 630 million of dollars.

Tribune Publishing Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Baltimore Sun and other newspapers, said on Tuesday it had agreed to sell its shares to Alden for $ 17.25 apiece, in cash.

Alden became the first shareholder of Tribune Publishings in 2019; it has a 32% stake. The hedge fund owns one of the largest newspaper chains in the country; its newspapers include the Boston Herald, the Denver Post, and the San Jose Mercury News.

The Baltimore Sun is not included in the deal. It will be sold to a non-profit organization formed by businessman and philanthropist Stewart Bainum Jr. who will run the newspaper for the benefit of the community, the Sun wrote Tuesday.

The success of the Tribune agreement depends on getting votes biotech billionaire and Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, who owns around 24% of Tribune Publishing, and shareholder Mason Slaine, a former media executive who owns around 8%, according to the Chicago Tribune. Slaine and a representative for Soon-Shiong did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Tribune said the purchase price was a 45% premium over the closing price of Tribunes shares on December 11, the last day of trading before the company received Aldens’ proposal. Tribunes’ board has approved the deal, which is expected to close in the second quarter.

Journalists from the Tribune have expressed fears about Aldens influence and control over their newspapers. Alden is known to cut costs and reducing the newsrooms of the newspapers it acquires for profit. He’s behind the MediaNews group, which owns the Boston Herald, the Denver Post, and dozens of other newspapers.

Tribune newspaper unions lobbied for alternative buyers for the company’s papers.

The newspaper industry is consolidating as it grapples with a digital transition and shrinking revenues. Newsroom jobs fell by almost half between 2004 and 2018, according to Pew Research. The pandemic has exacerbated these tensions. Tribunes’ chief financial officer said in November that the company had significantly cut costs during the pandemic, including time off, pay cuts and the closure of its newsrooms.

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

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This story has been corrected to note that the sale price is $ 630 million, not $ 630 billion

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