A former hedge fund manager is bidding for newspaper company Tronc

  • Former hedge fund manager William Z. Wyatt is leading a group of investors that are close to a deal to acquire newspaper publisher Tronc, sources told Business Insider.
  • Wyatt was previously a manager at Starboard Value.
  • At least one other private equity bid for Tronc may also be in the works, the Chicago Tribune reported on Wednesday.

An investment group formed by former hedge fund manager William Z. Wyatt is close to a deal to acquire newspaper publisher Tronc, according to people familiar with the matter.

The people cautioned that there is no certainty a deal will be reached.

Reuters earlier reported on the talks.

Wyatt was previously a manager at Starboard Value until June 2018, a New York-based investment adviser with a history of investing in deeply undervalued publicly traded US companies and pushing them into mergers and acquisitions, as it did with Internet pioneer Yahoo in 2016.

At least one other private equity bid for Tronc may also be in the works, Chicago Tribune reported on Wednesday.

The Tribune said the group is bidding between $US19 and $US20 per share for the publisher of the Chicago Tribune and other newspaper holdings. At its mid-point, this would value the company at roughly $US740 million.

Shares of Tronc closed at $US16.64 on Wednesday, meaning it has a market value of around $US620 million.

Politico was the first to report about “industry rumblings” of an offer for the company from a private equity firm in July.

While financial buyers have mostly avoided newspapers in recent years, several prominent names were reported to have been circling Tronc in recent months, including SoftBank and private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

Tronc already sold its other newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune earlier this year to billionaire investor Patrick Soon-Shiong for $US500 million.

The fate of the company has been in question since former chairman Michael Ferro decided to sell his controlling stake in the company in April to McCormick Media which eventually fell through. Since then, top executives have been consumed with trying to sell it, sources say.

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