Here’s what we know as the 5 p.m. July 1 deadline for final Newsweek bids approaches.
Chris Ruddy‘s Newsmax Media is out, as are hedge funders Thane Ritchie and Phil Falcone.
But we hear from a well-placed source that there’s another hedge fund among the frontrunners to which The Washington Post Co. is considering selling its money-losing newsweekly.
That would be Avenue Capital, which is run by billionaire Marc Lasry. A spokesperson for Avenue Capital declined to comment.
Other than that, there’s still TV Guide parent OpenGate Capital, electronics mogul Sidney Harman, and Fred Drasner, Mort Zuckerman‘s former partner in U.S. News & World Report and The New York Daily News.
It’s likely there are yet more unnamed suitors waiting in the wings (Bloomberg, anyone?), but Drasner is seen as the main contender at this point.
The full list of potential buyers for Newsweek is a closely kept secret, but unless it contains a stunner, Fred Drasner will most likely be its next owner. The Washington, D.C., businessman was a somewhat late entry into the process, but, as other suitors stumble, Drasner is emerging as the ailing newsweekly’s best chance at a turnaround.
Part of that’s because of the brainpower Drasner is recruiting to his cause: According to the New York Post, he’s teaming with Larry Ingrassia, the longtime head of Dow Jones Newswires who also won a Pulitzer Prize as The Wall Street Journal‘s Detroit bureau chief, and Alan Webber, former editorial director of the Harvard Business Review.
(Note: Drasner is teaming up not with Larry Ingrassia, but his brother, Paul.)
A source who’s worked closely with Drasner in the past offered some insight into what Drasner might do if he got the magazine.
“I certainly think Fred sees a magazine reporting on the news with a huge infrastucture and staff as an anachronism,” the source told us. “He’s gonna be tough. He’s a very hard-nosed business person.”
But would he make a good owner?
“A good owner for whom?” our source said. “If you’re asking if he’s going to care about the feelings of the journalists and maintaining a huge editorial infrastructure, the answer is no. If you’re talking about making it a better brand and really figuring out how to better posittion the magazine and its digital operations, then yeah, he’d be a pretty good owner.”
Also, the source said that Zuckerman and Drasner, who’d previously had something of a falling out, have “mended their relationship.”
Zuckerman recently told Keith Kelly he would not be bidding, but might there be talk of a future Newsweek/U.S. News & World Report merger going on behind the scenes?
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