Tronc could buy Sun-Times by month’s end, publisher says

Chicago Sun-Times

Unless another buyer comes forward, the Chicago Sun-Times could be acquired by the parent company of the Chicago Tribune by the end of the month, according to a statement from Jim Kirk, editor and publisher of the Sun-Times.

In an email to employees Monday, Kirk said the non-binding letter of intent by Tribune owner tronc to buy the Sun-Times, the Reader “and other assets” from owner Wrapports requires government antitrust approval.

Jim Kirk

“Soon after entering into discussions with tronc several months ago, both companies voluntarily informed the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division about the possibility of a transaction and have been working closely with officials to insure a potential combination protects the public interest,” he wrote.

“The Antitrust Division requested that we run an ad announcing the Sun-Times and other Wrapports’ assets were for sale to allow other potential bidders who were not previously contacted to come forward in the event there was interest. Any potential buyer would have 15 days to discuss a possible combination. If no viable partner emerges, tronc and Wrapports intend to continue pursuing a deal to successfully close the transaction.”

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

If completed, tronc would own and operate the Sun-Times “as a separate unit, assuring that the independent newsroom would remain,” according to Kirk.

Here is the text of Kirk’s email to staff:

Good afternoon,

I wanted to update everyone on some developments in regard to the Sun-Times and other assets owned by Wrapports, LLC. We just issued a press release (attached) announcing that in tomorrow’s edition of the Sun-Times the newspaper will run an ad (also attached) that it is seeking a buyer that will continue to publish the newspaper.

 In addition, the ad will state that Wrapports has signed a non-binding Letter of Intent with one such buyer, tronc, Inc., publisher of the Chicago Tribune and several other newspapers. Tronc may close on the sale of the Sun-Times, the Reader and other assets as early as 15 calendar days from tomorrow if no viable alternative buyer comes forward.
 
If completed, tronc would own and operate the Sun-Times as a separate unit, assuring that the independent newsroom would remain.

Wrapports agreed to enter into discussions with tronc after seeking alternative arrangements with other media companies both locally and outside of Chicago. After those efforts didn’t produce a deal, it became clear that a business combination with tronc made the most sense, especially since tronc and Wrapports already have some business ties, notably the printing and distribution arrangement between the Tribune and Sun-Times.
 
Soon after entering into discussions with tronc several months ago, both companies voluntarily informed the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division about the possibility of a transaction and have been working closely with officials to insure a potential combination protects the public interest.
 
The Antitrust Division requested that we run an ad announcing the Sun-Times and other Wrapports’ assets were for sale to allow other potential bidders who were not previously contacted to come forward in the event there was interest. Any potential buyer would have 15 days to discuss a possible combination. If no viable partner emerges, tronc and Wrapports intend to continue pursuing a deal to successfully close the transaction.
 
So, why do this now? Like many other metropolitan news operations, the Sun-Times continues to face enormous challenges in an industry roiled by changes in the marketplace. The investors and board members of Wrapports have been committed to keeping a second media voice in Chicago alive and thriving. But success in digital media requires a national platform that can make significant investments across products and services. We believe an ownership that can bring substantial digital resources can help and is the best path for the Sun-Times to succeed long term.
 
I want to make clear that Wrapports and tronc are still in talks about a potential deal.  We remain open to interest from other potential buyers. It is important to continue focusing on the great work we all do daily. There is no change to our business and we continue to work hard to produce the best journalism in the city to help grow our business.
 
We are committed to keeping all of our employees updated throughout this process and as always, Bruce and I are available to talk individually about this or anything else. Also, senior managers will work hard to keep our customers, vendors and others we work with informed on the process. Please don’t hesitate to come forward with questions.
 
Jim

Chicago Sun-Times