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Potential Sun-Times buyers line up ahead of deadline

Monday, Jun 5, 2017

* Robert Feder

Hoping to thwart Chicago Tribune owner tronc, a former Chicago alderman and a suburban hedge fund manager are expected to step up with competing bids for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader, according to multiple sources.

Monday is the last day prospective bidders may provide an initial offer, according to an agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division and Wrapports Holdings LLC, parent company of the two publications. If an acceptable offer is not received by 5 p.m., the daily Sun-Times and the weekly Reader are on track to be sold to tronc, which signed a letter of intent last month.

Sources have confirmed at least two groups — one led by the former alderman [Edwin Eisendrath] and the other led by the hedge fund manager [Thane Ritchie, CEO of Ritchie Capital Management] — have made their interest known to the Justice Department and Wrapports. Others also may come forward. […]

Eisendrath’s partners in the group expected to bid for the papers, sources said, include the Chicago Federation of Labor, an umbrella organization for about 320 unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO in Cook County.

* More on the Eisendrath/CFL bid

“The Chicago Federation of Labor, SEIU and other labor unions are very concerned and interested in ensuring that Chicago remains a two-newspaper town and other progressives are interested in this as well,” a source with knowledge of the bid involving labor told POLITICO. The coalition has “great interest that the Chicago Sun-Times remains an independent, free-standing institution. We have no faith the Chicago Tribune will do that.” […]

The Department of Justice’s Antitrust division is telling potential bidders there could be a scenario in which the highest bid doesn’t necessarily prevail, according to a separate source who is exploring a bid apart from the two cited above. That source said Monday’s deadline could be extended. The antitrust division is overseeing the Sun-Times sale.

* Crain’s

Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm’s family is interested in buying the Chicago Sun-Times in a face-off that could pit the real estate magnate against Chicago Tribune parent Tronc, according to sources familiar with the discussions. […]

Bluhm ranked 204th on Forbes’ list last year of the wealthiest people in the country and is third-richest in Illinois.

In addition to being a co-founder and chairman of Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming, he is a co-founder and managing principal of real estate investment firm Walton Street Capital and a co-founder and president of JMB Realty, according to a biography on the Rush Street website. […]

Bluhm has been a big contributor to Democrats, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and may believe his ownership would better preserve the historically left-leaning bent of the Sun-Times.

Bluhm would have the deepest pockets, for sure.

* Sun-Times

The Chicago News Guild, the union representing newsroom workers at the Sun-Times and Reader, has been opposed to a Tronc-Wrapports deal. The union has launched a “#NoNewsMonopoly” Facebook page and Twitter hashtag campaign.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Roman - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 11:51 am:

    Let’s hope one of these bids prevail. There’s no way the Sun-Times will remain independent under tronc’s sham joint ownership.

  2. - Deft Wing - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 11:56 am:

    But it’ll be independent if the CFL is the owner. Lol.

  3. - Can'tHardlyWait - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 11:59 am:

    The Sun-Times being owned by the Federation of Labor? Independent? Please.

    Can’t wait for Rich to refer to the Sun-Times as the CFL “news service”

  4. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 12:14 pm:

    ===as the CFL “news service” ===

    Super CS-T! The Voice of Labor!

    (Only old people will get that one.)

  5. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 12:27 pm:

    Some of you are confused about the word “independent” in this context.

    A buyer other than tronc would ensure the Sun-Times is independent of the ownership of the other daily newspaper in town.

    No media outlet is “independent” of the viewpoint of its ownership.

    If tronc owns the Sun-Times, they have a monopoly in town, if the Justice Department allows it.

  6. - Amalia - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 12:31 pm:

    Remember when Eisendrath ran against Sid Yates? that was pure arrogance.

  7. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 12:31 pm:

    Wordslinger: “independent” is a good thing, and so it must mean “owned by someone I agree with.”

  8. - DuesPayingMember - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 12:32 pm:

    Happy to see my union dues are being spent wisely. By this logic in twenty years my union will be investing In radio. /s

  9. - lake county democrat - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 12:33 pm:

    Rich folk buying newspapers as a public service and operating them at a (hopefully not too bad of a) loss are newspaper’s best hope. I guess a union purchase is effectively the same thing.

  10. - Roman - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 1:01 pm:

    == No media outlet is “independent” of the viewpoint of its ownership. ==

    Thanks, word.

    It doesn’t matter whom owns the newspapers, just so long as there is not one owner. Chicago will suffer if is not a two-paper town. And we will be better off if one paper leans right and the other leans left.

    Yes, newspapers are less influential than they’ve ever been. But they still matter. Most Chicagoans get their news from television newscasts and social media feeds. A whole bunch of that content is driven by what the Tribune and Sun-Times publish online or in the old-fashioned morning paper.

    Having just one entity controlling the initial flow of that information would be a very bad thing.

  11. - Wallinger Dickus - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 1:29 pm:

    And don’forget, old timers, Super Jock was not only atop the Big 89. He also commandeered one of the drive slots at The Voice of Labor.

    We could do worse.

  12. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 1:42 pm:

    ===in twenty years my union will be investing In radio. /s ===

    Google WCFL.

  13. - ILGOV2018 - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 4:41 pm:

    Rich, I remember!

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