Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Deal to Sell Piece of Tronc Falls Apart

An investor group’s deal to buy former Tronc Chairman Michael Ferro’s entire stake in the newspaper chain has fallen through, according to The Chicago Tribune.

In April, Ferro struck the deal to sell his 25.6 percent stake in Tronc — which owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Orlando Sentinel and other newspapers — for $208.6 million to McCormick Media. Ferro owned the shares personally and through his Merrick Media and Merrick Venture Management entities.

That purchase agreement priced Ferro’s more than 9 million shares of Tronc at $23 each. Ferro had the option to terminate the deal and receive a $1 million fee if it didn’t close by the later of May 15 or five days after federal antitrust regulators signed off on the transaction.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, Ferro said he terminated the purchase agreement because of a “breach of its obligations” by the buyer, McCormick Media.

A source familiar with the proposed transaction said Tuesday that McCormick Media was unable to fully finance the transaction.

McCormick Media is headed by Sargent McCormick, a distant relative of the family that built the Tribune media empire nearly a century ago. Last month, McCormick legally changed his last name from Collier.

Other named investors in McCormick Media include John Lynch, former chief executive of the San Diego Union-Tribune, and Clancy Woods, a longtime radio executive who once ran the Sporting News Radio Network.

Ferro stepped down from the board of Tronc in late March, just hours before Fortune published a story online accusing him of inappropriate sexual behavior toward two women while in his previous role as head of a Chicago investment firm.

Tronc’s $500 million sale of the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune to biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, announced in February, has yet to close.

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