Inquirer co-owners Lewis Katz and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest win bid for Philly newspapers
Winning bid comes in at $88 million, far below what the papers were valued at just a few years ago, but above $61 million price paid two years ago
The soap opera that is the Philadelphia newspapers may be coming to an end with the successful bid by co-owners Lewis Katz and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest of $88 million. The winners will also inherit just over $15 million in debt, as well.
The team outbid the former co-owner George Norcross who had feuded with Katz when they jointly owned the papers.
“I’m really pleased that Gerry Lenfest and Lewis Katz prevailed. I believe they are committed to the kind of public service journalism that Philadelphia, its suburbs and South Jersey really require,” Editor William Marimow said. “At the same time, I know they realize how important it is for the Inquirer, the Daily News and Philly.com to be in the vanguard of the multimedia world. There’s a lot of hard work to be done.”
Marimow had been fired by the publisher Robert Hall in October, apparently with the support of Norcross. Marimow was then given his job back by a court decision. So, it appears, this is all good news for the editor.
The saga of the Philly newspapers really began eight years ago when they publisher went bankrupt. The papers went from two groups of local owners to being hedge fund owned, to being co-owned by partners that could not get along. The final bidding for the papers settles the ownership issue, though now the goal will be reach profitability.
The ownership of Katz and Lenfest may provide a solid financial footing for the papers as both are wealthy businessmen, Lenfest having sold off his company to Comcast in 1999. Since then he has been an active philanthropist.