Newsrooms across the Tribune Publishing newspaper empire are growing worried as the standstill arrangement that has retained cost-slashing hedge fund Alden Global Capital by raising its inventory holdings has set to expire next week.
The widespread speculation is that Alden, led by Heath Freeman, will make the most of this June 30 sunset to cultivate its own 32 percent stake in Tribune by purchasing the 24 percent stake in the business currently held by healthcare billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of the LA Times.
That would change the hedge fund firm in the single-largest stockholder into one having a transparent majority of those stocks.
“Alden possesses it in a couple of days,” called one business exec who has worked together with Tribune. “Soon-Shiong does not have any interest in being a white knight in Tribune,” the exec added. “He’s his own troubles at the LA Times. He will be delighted to choose the $80 or $90 million that he could get from Alden and utilize in the LA Times, which will be losing money”
Alden is well known for intense cuts in other newspapers it controls by its MediaNews Group and Digital First Media units, resulting in forecasts the exact same could occur in Tribune, whose newspapers include the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News and the Hartford Courant, if Alden earnings dominate. “They’ll take the hammer knife,” called the executive. “They’ll cut some advertisements and company, but these newsrooms will be taken in the head.”
Tribune has expanded its board by 2 associates to adapt two enhancements related to Alden: Dana Goldsmith Needleman and Christopher Minnetian. Both have been voted in despite strenuous objections increased by the Chicago Tribune News Guild.
Separately, a local team led by the Abell Foundation and that the Goldseker Foundation has expressed interest in purchasing Tribune’s Baltimore Sun and turning it to a non-profit, but there is no sign that Tribune would like to market. The matter apparently was not even raised in the organization’s yearly meeting earlier this season.
In Chicago, investigative reporters David Jackson and Gary Marx have been trying to drum up interest from local leaders to purchase their newspaper and save it from further cuts., however there are not any symptoms of purposeful talks with the writer.