Tribune Publishing has confirmed it received a revised, fully financed bid from a second suitor that “would reasonably be expected to lead to a ‘Superior Proposal’” over the bid received from Alden Global Capital.
The Chicago Trobune reports Tribune Publishing said the $18.50-per-share bid submitted April 1 by an entity named Newslight, jointly owned by Maryland hotel executive Stewart Bainum and Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, is fully financed. The $680 million bid remains subject to conditions such as due diligence and the completion of a definitive agreement.
Alden, a New York-based hedge fund and Tribune Publishing’s largest shareholder with a 31.6% stake, reached an agreement in February to buy the rest of the company at $17.25 per share and take it private. That deal values Tribune Publishing at about $633 million.
If Tribune Publishing accepts a higher bid, Alden would have four business days to match the higher offer or receive a $20 million breakup fee, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The special committee’s determination that the Newslight offer would be expected to lead to a higher bid means the company can begin negotiations with that group but Tribune is not allowed to terminate the merger agreement with Alden or enter into a merger agreement with Newslight, Bainum or Wyss, Tribune said.
In addition to the Chicago Tribune, Tribune Publishing owns The Baltimore Sun; the Hartford (Connecticut) Courant; the Orlando (Florida) Sentinel; the South Florida Sun Sentinel; New York Daily News; the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland; The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania; the Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia; and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia.
If a deal is consummated, the long-term plan is for Bainum to own The Baltimore Sun, Wyss to own the Chicago Tribune, and to sell off the rest of the Tribune Publishing newspapers to individual or group owners, a source told the Tribune Sunday.