tronc makes bid for owner of Chicago Sun-Times
Combination would preserve Sun-Times independent voice, increase tronc’s digital audience
tronc, Inc. has entered into a non-binding letter of intent to acquire Wrapports Holdings, LLC, the owner of the Chicago Sun-Times and other media assets, including its minority ownership interest in digital content network business Aggrego, LLC, the alternative weekly Chicago Reader and syndicated column The Straight Dope.
The announcement comes as Wrapports, at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division, publishes notice today of its plan to sell the Sun-Times to a buyer that will continue to publish the paper. If no other bidder comes forward, tronc will be that buyer and the acquisition will close as early as June 1.
"The acquisition is the latest in almost a decade of transactions between the owners of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times," said Tim Knight, president of troncX who also heads mergers and acquisitions for the company.
"In 2007, Chicago Tribune Media Group began distributing the Chicago Sun-Times and its then owned suburban papers," said Knight. "As this relationship continued to evolve, the parties agreed in 2011 to have Chicago Tribune print the Chicago Sun-Times, an agreement that continues today. Discussions about a further combination of the businesses continued over the next few years, resulting in the Chicago Tribune Media Group's 2014 purchase of the Sun-Times' suburban titles."
"If we successfully close, we will be pleased to have the Chicago Sun-Times join our existing family of strong brands and help it maintain its independent voice," said tronc CEO and director Justin Dearborn. "tronc will benefit from increased unique visitors, better engagement with Sun-Times consumers and more data for future troncX initiatives."
Earlier this year, Wrapports management approached tronc leadership about pursuing the transaction. Since that time, the parties have worked with the Department of Justice to demonstrate that this combination is the best way to preserve multiple editorial voices in the greater Chicago area.
The specific terms of the potential transaction are not yet finalized. If it closes, Chicago Sun-Times will continue to be an independent newsroom.