For sale: Sun-Times extends deadline for outside bidders

Chicago Sun-Times (May 31, 2017)

The parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times has agreed to give potential buyers a few more days to make a bid for the newspaper, possibly derailing a deal with Chicago Tribune owner tronc.

At the request of the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, Wrapports Holdings LLC will extend the deadline to Monday, giving others five more days to prepare an offer, according to Jim Kirk, publisher and editor of the Sun-Times.

Jim Kirk

“While there has been interest by some, the DOJ has asked us to extend the process only to those prospective bidders who have already expressed interest in the Sun-Times,” Kirk informed employees in an email Wednesday.

Sources said at least two outside groups have made inquiries since Wrapports announced plans May 15 to sell the daily Sun-Times and alternative weekly Chicago Reader. They have not been identified publicly.

In announcing its intention to buy Wrapports, tronc said it would operate the Sun-Times with a separate newsroom and “help it maintain its independent voice” if the deal goes through.

Editorial employees of the Sun-Times and the Reader represented by the Chicago News Guild are urging the Justice Department to block the sale to tronc, saying it would create a “Chicago news monopoly” and expressing doubt that the Sun-Times would remain a viable competitor to the Tribune.

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

Folks, I wanted to give you an update on the effort to solicit offers for the Sun-Times and other Wrapports’ properties. As you know, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division asked that we run an ad announcing that the Sun-Times was up for sale, which we did in the May 16 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times.  We also announced that we have a Letter of Intent from Tronc Inc., owner of the Chicago Tribune and several other media titles. 

In that ad we stated that we were opening up the process for 15 days for a potential buyer to come forward with a bid. If that happened, the process would be extended another 15 days to negotiate a potential deal.

While there has been interest by some, the DOJ has asked us to extend the process only to those prospective bidders who have already expressed interest in the Sun-Times. Those bidders will be given until 5 p.m., June 5th, to provide an initial offer. 

This does not change the time frame for the remainder of the process. 

We appreciate the focus and dedication of all of our employees and we will keep you updated as much as we can throughout the remainder of the process. Please let me know if you have any questions. 

Thanks, 
Jim

Chicago Sun-Times