Tribune Publishing CEO Dearborn to Step Down

(Bloomberg) -- Tribune Publishing Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Justin Dearborn is handing the reins to one of his lieutenants, capping a tumultuous tenure that included deal talks and a name change.

Dearborn will be replaced as CEO by the newspaper company’s president, Tim Knight, the Chicago-based publisher said. Knight will also join the Tribune Publishing board. David Dreier, who’s been a director of the company since 2016, will take over the chairman role.

Dearborn was appointed CEO in 2016 and became chairman last year, putting him at the helm of a storied newspaper company struggling to adapt to modern realities. The publisher had changed its name to Tronc in 2016, aiming for a hipper moniker that reflected its push into digital media. But the name was widely ridiculed, and Dearborn changed the company back to Tribune Publishing last year.

The company confirmed the changes after Bloomberg reported on the move earlier Thursday.

His decision to leave comes just weeks after Tribune Publishing’s talks over a potential takeover by McClatchy Co. ended without a deal for the regional newspaper owner. At the time, Tribune Publishing rejected a fully financed cash-and-stock offer from McClatchy valuing the company at $16.50 a share. Donerail Group and AIM Media also submitted bids for Tribune Publishing in November.

Knight, a former mergers and acquisitions lawyer, joined the company two years ago. He previously helped launch Cars.com Inc. and Apartments.com and was publisher of Newsday before it was sold to Cablevision Systems Corp.

Knight suggested in a statement that more deals may lie ahead for the company.

“We are confident that we have the right assets, people and strategy to continue to transform our business while investing in world-class journalism,” he said in a statement. “We also believe there are attractive consolidation opportunities within the media industry that will enable us to accelerate our strategy.”

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