Sun-Times sold to unions, wealthy investors led by Eisendrath – Marketing/media News

on Jul13

12 July 2017 | 8:53 pm

The money-losing Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Reader have been sold for $1 to a group that includes wealthy Chicagoans and unions.

People on both sides of the transaction confirmed that the transaction is closing today. The purchasers’ group is led by former Lincoln Park alderman Edwin Eisendrath, and it includes the Chicago Federation of Labor.

The sale by Wrapports is being completed after negotiations were guided by the Justice Department, which was opposed to the Sun-Times being sold to Tronc, the owner of its larger rival, the Chicago Tribune. Chicago-based Tronc bid for the assets in May.

Wrapports owners had threatened to shut down the tabloid operation if they couldn’t reach agreement with the Eisendrath group and were blocked from selling to Tronc.

Justice’s antitrust division forced Wrapports to seek other bidders by threatening to halt a sale to Tronc, according to sources familiar with the talks. Tronc is led by Chairman Michael Ferro, who also formerly held the biggest ownership stake at Chicago-based Wrapports.

The biggest individual investor among the purchasers is Northwestern Law School-educated criminal defense attorney Len Goodman, who sources said invested about $4 million toward the group’s at least $11 million fund to keep the paper operating.

Goodman, who had a privileged upbringing as part of the billionaire Chicago Crown family, has represented some notorious Chicago clients, such as Betty Loren-Maltese, but also a lot of people who couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer, according to a Chicago Lawyer Magazine profile about him in 2010.

The profile noted that in his office he had hung a signed 1970s-era poster from journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s campaign for sheriff of Aspen. He told the magazine that he was a fan of that author’s style of Gonzo journalism. Goodman hasn’t returned calls seeking comment since Crain’s reported earlier that he was among the investors.

Also, in the group of investors is Bill Brandt, a corporate turnaround consultant who leads Chicago firm Development Specialists.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Brandt said in an interview, explaining that he knows it will be a difficult task to lead the flagging operation, and that it will require creative thinking. It’s an important “Chicago institution” to preserve a second editorial voice in the city, and to support a free press at this point in history, he said.

Keeping the paper alive was also a priority for the sellers, even as they sought to maximize the price paid to Wrapports owners in the transaction, said Brad Bulkley, an investment banker who negotiated the deal on behalf of the Wrapports sellers.

Aside from Tronc, Wrapports had said earlier that it was unable to find any other potential buyers. Local companies like Shaw Media and the owner of the Arlington Daily Herald were put off by a $25 million printing and distribution contract the Sun-Times has with Tronc through 2019, the sources said.



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