Tribune Publishing Gets Bids From McClatchy, Donerail

(Bloomberg) -- Donerail Group and newspaper publishers McClatchy Co. and AIM Media have submitted bids for Tribune Publishing Co., according to people familiar with the matter.

Tribune’s board is scheduled to meet early next week after bids for the assets were due Thursday, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public.

Representatives for Tribune Publishing and McClatchy declined to comment. Representatives for Donerail and AIM didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Potential buyers have been circling Tribune Publishing for months. The company, which changed its name back from Tronc Inc. last month, owns publications including the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Baltimore Sun and Hartford Courant.

McClatchy is offering some stock as part of its bid, which would give Tribune Publishing shareholders interest in the combined business, according to the people. McClatchy, which owns 30 newspapers including the Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee and Kansas City Star, expects that it could generate cost savings by combining with Tribune Publishing, they said.

Asset Sale

Donerail, backed by Starboard Value veteran William Wyatt, could sell some of Tribune Publishing’s newspaper assets to individual buyers, Nieman Lab media analyst Ken Doctor said in August.

AIM Media, based in McAllen, Texas, owns daily and weekly newspapers throughout the state, including the The Monitor and The Coastal Current, according to its website. The company is run by Jeremy Halbreich, a former chairman and chief executive of Sun-Times Media in Chicago.

Tribune Publishing has been beset by controversy since Michael Ferro became its largest shareholder and took over as chairman in early 2016. He stepped down in March hours before Fortune magazine detailed sexual-harassment accusations against him from two women.

In June, Tribune Publishing completed the $500 million sale of the Los Angeles Times to billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong.

Soon-Shiong, Tribune Publishing’s second-largest shareholder, would like to see the company sell more assets if it gets “the right price,” he said in an interview in July.

Gannett Co. terminated talks two years ago to buy Tribune Publishing, a once-powerful publisher that’s been battling a declining market since spinning off in 2014 from Tribune Media Co.

Tribune Publishing fell 1.5 percent to $15.49 at 12:29 p.m in New York trading, giving the Chicago-based company a market value of $547 million. Its shares are down 12 percent this year.

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