Never mind: Swiss billionaire gives up bid to rescue Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune

On second thought, cancel the ticker tape parade and key to the city for Hansjörg Wyss.

The Swiss billionaire who burst on the scene last month as the “potential savior” of the Chicago Tribune won’t be challenging Alden Global Capital’s takeover of Tribune Publishing after all.

Hansjörg Wyss

Citing three sources, the New York Times was first to report Saturday that Wyss had taken himself out of the bidding after examining Tribune Publishing’s finances.

“Mr. Wyss had come to believe it would be difficult for him to realize his ambition of transforming The Chicago Tribune — the company’s flagship paper and the one he was most interested in — into a national publication,” according to Times reporter Katie Robertson.

Wyss, who’s been a major donor to progressive causes, had joined Maryland hotel executive Stewart Bainum Jr. in proposing a $680 million bid for Tribune Publishing — exceeding that of New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital.

While Bainum remains committed to pursuing ownership of Tribune Publishing, according to multiple reports, his real interest is in the Baltimore Sun. Now with Wyss out of the picture, future ownership of the Chicago Tribune remains uncertain.

“No doubt this is disappointing news but we will not stop fighting for civic-minded ownership at the @chicagotribune,” tweeted Tribune reporter Greg Pratt, president of the Chicago Tribune Guild. “Our newspaper is a vital, profitable institution and we need leadership that is committed to our city and state.

“I am grateful for Stewart Bainum’s continued efforts to save the company from immoral Alden Global Capital and know our next owner is out there.”

(An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Wyss as Swedish in the headline.)