Chicago Tribune Controlling Stockholder Says Stock Sale Faltered

(Bloomberg) -- Merrick Media, the largest stockholder in the parent company of the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, said the sale of its 25 percent stake to an investor group failed to go through after the buyer breached its obligations.

Michael Ferro’s Merrick Media had agreed in April to sell its stake in Tronc Inc. to McCormick Media for $208.6 million. In a regulatory filing Tuesday, Merrick Media cited an unspecified breach of their agreement.

The buyers included Sargent McCormick, according to the April filing, who is in business development at the Harvester Trust, his LinkedIn page says. The trust manages the fortune of a family whose patriarch Cyrus McCormick invented the reaper in the early 1800s. The purchasers, who also include John Lynch and Clancy Woods, recently approached Ferro, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Separately, Tronc agreed in February to sell its Southern California holdings, including the Los Angeles Times, to billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong.

Ferro, 51, led Tronc through a tumultuous period. He became chairman in 2016 after Tribune Publishing was split from the broadcast business that was once part of Tribune Co. He became the company’s largest stockholder through a $44.4 million investment and within a month forced out Chief Executive Officer Jack Griffin and installed new management.

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