Michael Ferro, the tech entrepreneur and would-be media mogul who was the largest shareholder in the parent company of the Chicago Tribune, is leaving the newspaper business.
According to a filing late Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Ferro is selling all of his stock in tronc to McCormick Media, a new ownership group reportedly tied to the family of the late Colonel Robert McCormick, longtime publisher of the Chicago Tribune.
Ferro agreed to sell his 26 percent stake in tronc — more than nine million shares — for $208.6 million. At $23 per share, his payout represents a premium of 34 percent over the current stock price.
Tronc Chairman and CEO Justin Dearborn released this statement: “This afternoon Merrick Media, LLC, which is controlled by Michael W. Ferro, filed an amendment to its Schedule 13D filing in which it announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell all of its shares in tronc, Inc. to McCormick Media LLC in a transaction to which tronc, Inc. was not a party. I want to emphasize that this is a private transaction between Merrick and the buyer and does not alter our business strategy or the pending sale of the California News Group.”
Ferro stepped down as chairman of tronc last month just hours before Fortune magazine published allegations by two female entrepreneurs that Ferro had made inappropriate sexual advances toward them.
His exit capped a week that saw Chicago Tribune editorial employees announce plans to seek union recognition for the first time in the newspaper’s 171-year history.
Ferro took control of the former Tribune Publishing (which he later renamed tronc) in 2016 after five years as chairman of Wrapports, parent company of the Sun-Times. Tronc owns multiple media properties in Chicago and nine other cities.