Media can’t attend Philadelphia Inquirer auction

The Philadelphia Inquirer | Big Trial

Next Tuesday, the owners of The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com will meet in a courtroom to determine which of them will get to keep the properties. The auction will be closed to the public and representatives of the media, David Sell reports in the Inquirer:

“Having considered the parties’ submissions, I conclude that the auction should be conducted confidentially and that the auction should be closed to everyone but the participants and the trustee,” Delaware Court of Chancery Vice Chancellor Donald F. Parsons Jr. wrote in a letter accompanying his order.

Parsons did order that the winning bidder and eventual sale price of the publishing assets be released. One group of the current owners, as well as the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, asked for an open auction, Ralph Cipriano reports for Big Trial.

Co-owners Lewis Katz and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest “wanted only the identity of the winning bidder disclosed, and not the amount of the winning bid,” Cipriano writes. George E. Norcross III, Joseph Buckelew, and William P. Hankowsky make up the other group of co-owners bidding in the auction.

Parsons last month ordered that Interstate General Media’s partnership be dissolved and its assets sold via an “English-style” auction among current owners. Bidding will begin at $77 million and “will increase $1 million every 10 minutes until one side drops out,” Sell reports.

The Guild had considered making a bid for IGM’s holdings but “couldn’t come up with an investor willing to spend $77 million,” Cipriano writes. In a blog post last month, the Guild said “someone else can overpay.”

The auction “means that Inquirer Publisher Bob Hall and Inquirer Editor Bill Marimow will stay on the job for one more week, until the auction is over,” Cipriano writes.

If the Katz group wins, Marimow is in and Hall is out. If the Norcross group wins, Marimow is out and Hall may stay on the job until a new publisher is hired.

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