Saturday, July 8, 2017

Chicago Sun-Times Owners Set Monday Deal Deadline

The owners of the Chicago Sun-Times are prepared to shut down the paper if a deal with an investor group falls through and the government tries to block its sale to the parent of the Chicago Tribune.

According to Crain's Chicago Business, Wrapports, which owns the Sun-Times, plans to pursue the previously announced deal with Tronc if an investor group led by former Ald. Edwin Eisendrath can't finalize its offer. "If they're not going to be ready on Monday, we're moving on," said Brad Bulkley, an investment banker handling negotiations for Wrapports.

If the Justice Department's antitrust division goes to court to try to halt a merger with Tronc, Wrapports owners are prepared to shut down the Sun-Times, said sources familiar with the talks.

Still, would-be buyers in the Eisendrath group are feeling confident about their bid. The group includes the Chicago Federation of Labor and some of its union members, including the Chicago News Guild which represents some Sun-Times workers.

One previously undisclosed member of that group, restructuring consultant Bill Brandt, said he thinks the money pledged for the purchase will be in place by the deadline and that the deal will go forward.

Wrapports put the Sun-Times on the block earlier this year, pitching it to peers like the Daily Herald and Gannett before concluding that the only taker was Tronc, parent to the larger Tribune. The two Chicago publishers reached a tentative agreement in May that would merge the companies but keep the two newsrooms separate.

Wrapports was created by a group of investors led by venture capitalist Michael Ferro in 2011 to buy the Sun-Times, but he shifted gears last year and tapped some of the same investors to buy then-Tribune Publishing, now renamed Tronc.

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