Investor Group to Acquire Chicago Sun-Times

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By Sara Merken

A group of investors led by former Chicago alderman Edwin Eisendrath has beaten out a bid by tronc Inc., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, to buy the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Justice Department announced late July 12 that it had closed its antitrust investigation into the potential merger of the Tribune and the Sun-Times. The DOJ was concerned that antitrust problems could arise with a merger that would have combined the only two major newspapers serving the Chicago area.

The investor group that will buy the ailing Sun-Times instead of tronc, called ST Acquisition Holdings LLC, includes the Chicago Federation of Labor, corporate restructuring specialist William Brandt, local labor unions, and other unnamed individuals, the Sun-Times reported July 12.

‘Historic Coalition’

“This is a historic coalition of workers and like-minded investors who represent a cross-section of the Chicago population, coming together with one common goal: to preserve independent media entities in Chicago and protect their journalistic integrity. This effort amplifies the diversity of voices and perspectives of Chicago stories both locally and nationally,” said Jorge Ramirez, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor and Chairman of the Chicago Sun-Times, in a statement provided to Bloomberg BNA.

The DOJ announced the investigation of the merger on May 15, the same day the deal between tronc and Sun-Times’ owner Wrapports LLC was made public.

The investigation looked into whether the Sun-Times was a “failing firm,” in which the company must prove its efforts to keep its assets in the market through other offers were unsuccessful and it would go out of business if not sold to the sole prospective buyer.

The DOJ “monitored closely” as Wrapports sought alternative offers. The antitrust division initially requested a 15-day waiting period to allow the Sun-Times to receive alternative offers and then extended that time.

The purchase of Wrapports totaled $1, the Sun-Times reported. Other terms of the sale have not been disclosed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sara Merken in Washington at smerken@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bna.com

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