Tronc Inc., owner of newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and Chicago Tribune, agreed to pay US$1 and assume pensions and liabilities for the New York Daily News and NYDailyNews.com to expand its digital business and add coverage of the biggest media market in the US.
Chicago-based Tronc assumed operational and pension liabilities for the New York Daily News in a deal that includes 100 percent ownership of the New York newspaper’s printing facility in New Jersey, Tronc said in a statement late Monday. The pensions and liabilities Tronc is accepting under the deal total more than $100 million, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because financial terms are confidential.
Acquisition of the almost 100-year-old paper marks the highest-profile media deal for Tronc Chairman Michael Ferro, a former software entrepreneur and investor, since he bought into the company last year through his Merrick Ventures LLC. The newspaper group will now operate in 10 major US markets and have more than 80 million unique monthly digital visitors, it said in the statement.
Tronc and rivals including Hearst Corp. and Gannet Co. are buying more papers to gain economies of scale as a decline in print advertising and relatively small gains in digital ad growth cut valuations for magazine and newspaper brands. Last year in the US, 50 daily newspapers changed hands in 28 deals, according to newspaper merger-and-acquisition firm Dirks, Van Essen & Murray. The deals were driven largely by families or small newspaper groups getting out of the business.
The New York Daily News, a tabloid that has won 11 Pulitzer prizes, including one this year for public service journalism, will remain under Arthur Browne, editor-in-chief, who has also been named publisher, according to the statement. He will report to Tronc President Timothy Knight.
Mort Zuckerman, chairman and publisher since 1993, said in the statement that the New York tabloid had “helped shape the dynamics of the city.”
Tronc’s proposal to buy cross-town rival Chicago Sun-Times owner Wrapports LLC, where Ferro formerly owned a stake, was rejected by regulators on concern it would be bad for competition. The newspaper group, formerly known as Tribune Publishing Co., paid $56 million last year for Freedom Communications Inc., publisher of the Orange County Register.
Methuselah Advisors advised New York Daily News owner, Daily News L.P., on the transaction, according to the statement.