March 29, 2021

The four-sided game to decide the future of Tribune Publishing has gained a fifth player.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that a Swiss billionaire, Hansjörg Wyss, has joined Maryland hotel entrepreneur Stewart Bainum Jr. in mounting a last-minute upset bid for the company, saying he hoped to preserve good journalism at the company that owns the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and seven other metro papers.

Wyss told the Times that he has agreed to match Bainum in putting up $100 million each and borrowing another $450 million for an $18.50-a-share offer.

Hedge fund Alden Global Capital has bid $17.25 a share to take over Tribune Publishing, an offer the company has tentatively accepted and scheduled for a shareholder vote. As the rules for approval are written, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and his wife, owners of the Los Angeles Times, with a 24% stake in Tribune Publishing, have veto power.

Soon-Shiong, who reportedly lost more than $50 million in 2020 running the Times, thus has the choice of cashing in $150 million or taking his chances on holding out for a higher price.

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.

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Rick Edmonds is media business analyst for the Poynter Institute where he has done research and writing for the last fifteen years. His commentary on…
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