Owner of Chicago Reader has put the paper on the sales block

Crain’s Chicago Business
Atalaya Capital Management has hired Bulkley Capital to shop for a new owner for the venerable Chicago alt-weekly, reports Lynne Marek. The Sun-Times has been approached, Marek says. Bulkley Capital handled the Reader’s sale in 2007 to Creative Loafing: “Bulkley Capital was extremely useful in advising us, keeping the deal on track and sheperding it through to a sale. It was completely top-secret,” writes Tom Yoder in a testimonial on Bulkley’s website. “And we ended up astonished that word never got out – astonished and delighted. In the end, it was very complex. If we had just left it up to the lawyers, it would have been a disaster.”

That sale did turn out to be a disaster, depending on your point of view. (Disclosure: I worked for the Washington City Paper, sold in the same transaction at that time, and this point of view is mine). Creative Loafing went bankrupt in 2008, and its CEO, Ben Eason, lost control of the company to Atalaya in 2009.

Atalaya still owns the Washington City Paper and Creative Loafing Atlanta. There’s no word yet whether those publications are also for sale. Last October, Atalaya sold Creative Loafing’s Tampa and Charlotte papers to SouthComm, which also owns the Nashville Scene and LEO in Louisville, Ky. In 2009, the Reader’s Michael Miner talked with Atalaya’s Michael Bogdan. “We’re not going to say we’ll own you guys forever,” Bogdan said. “That is not what investment funds do. But we’ll be living with you guys for a while.”

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