September 4, 2017 Last Updated 12:46 pm

Tronc acquires New York Daily News in deal involving assumption of debt, control of New Jersey printing facility

The publisher of the LA Times and Chicago Tribune had been the owner of the NYC tabloid back when it was known as The Tribune Company, but the paper was sold in 1991, and then acquired by Mort Zuckerman in 1993

The New York Daily News has been sold off to tronc, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. The deal involves the assumption of Daily News, as well as the acquisition of the printing facility in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The sale of the Daily News by Mort Zuckerman likely ends the Daily News’s aggressive coverage of the president. The tabloid has been especially biting in its front pages design. But tronc is run by northsiders (Chicago) and the chances that the paper will continue to be a thorn in Trump’s side are slim. The Chicago Tribune continues to be a Republican paper in a Democratic town, only breaking with tradition to endorse a Democrat for the White House when that Democrat was hometown favorite Barack Obama.

Fro tronc, the deal is a big boost to the company’s ego, though possibly a drain on its finances. tronc had wanted to acquire the newspapers of Freedom Communications, adding the Orange County Register to its existing holdings in Southern California, the LA Times and San Diego Union Tribune. But the publisher was stymied by the Department of Justice and so saw the property end up with Digital First Media, which has its own debt issues.

tronc then moved to acquire crosstown rival the Chicago Sun-Times, but it probably does not mind that defeat as it effectively controls the tabloid through its printing deal.

tronc CEO Michael Ferro, who was born outside NYC in Merrick, New York, can now claim a victory of sorts. He has brought the NYC tabloid back into the fold.

The paper was owned by The Tribune Company from its founding in 1919, only to be sold off to Robert Maxwell in 1991, then bought by Mortimer Zuckerman and Fred Drasner in 1993. Zuckerman had been rumored to be looking to unload the unprofitable tabloid, but few were interested in paying actual dollars for the property when the debt would have to also be assumed.

For tronc, the price appeared to be just right ($1, in addition to the debt).

Arthur Browne, the current editor-in-chief of the tabloid, was named publisher by the paper’s new owner, but this will only be temporary as Browne has indicated that he will retire at the end of the year.

Here is the announcement from tronc:


CHICAGO, Ill. — September 04, 2017 — tronc, Inc. today announced that it has acquired all of the outstanding interests of Daily News, LP., owner of the New York Daily News and NYDailyNews.com.

The New York Daily News, with approximately 25 million unique monthly visitors through NYDailyNews.com, has been New York City’s “Hometown Newspaper” since 1919. It has won 11 Pulitzer Prizes, most recently the prize in the category of public service journalism in 2017.

“We are excited to welcome the New York Daily News team to the tronc family, and we look forward to working with them to serve new audiences and marketers while delivering value for our shareholders,” said Justin Dearborn, tronc CEO. “As part of the tronc portfolio, the New York Daily News will provide us with another strategic platform for growing our digital business, expanding our reach and broadening our services for advertisers and marketers.”

Noting that tronc’s predecessor company, The Tribune Company, founded the New York Daily News, Dearborn added, “With the New York Daily News back under our umbrella, tronc will serve 10 major U.S. markets, including each of the top three, hold 105 Pulitzers and have over 80 million unique monthly digital visitors.”

Arthur Browne, current editor-in-chief of the New York Daily News has also been named as Publisher. Mr. Browne, who previously indicated his intention to retire from the paper, has agreed to stay until the end of 2017. He will report to tronc President Timothy Knight.

“Over the past near-century, the New York Daily News has served New York City and its surrounding areas with its award-winning journalism and helped shape the dynamics of the city,” said Mort Zuckerman, New York Daily News Chairman and Publisher, and owner since 1993.

“The New York Daily News is a venerable New York City institution,” added New York Daily News co-Publisher Eric Gertler. “We believe that under tronc’s leadership, the New York Daily News will maintain its tradition of excellence in journalism and continue to be a critical voice for millions of print and online readers.”

“Under the ownership of Mortimer Zuckerman, the New York Daily News was awarded five Pulitzer Prizes recognizing their commitment to quality journalism that serves the citizens of New York City and the surrounding area. We look forward to continuing this great tradition and appreciate his faithful stewardship as its owner,” said Timothy Knight, tronc President.

Additional Transaction Details
Under the terms of the transaction, tronc assumed operational and pension liabilities of the New York Daily News. The Company will meet the obligations from New York Daily News cash flow.

The transaction includes 100% ownership of the New York Daily News’ printing facility in Jersey City, New Jersey. As part of the transaction, tronc will acquire a 49.9% interest in a joint venture with Zuckerman-related entities that will own the 25-acre parcel of land on which the printing facility is located and which overlooks the Manhattan skyline.

For this transaction, Methuselah Advisors acted as Daily News, L.P.’s exclusive financial advisor and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP served as the corporate counsel.

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