Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Whither Philly Dailies?

The Philadelphia Inquirer-Daily News Building ...Image via WikipediaHow solid or shaky the ground on which Philadelphia Media Network ("PMN")-owned dailies, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, stand is open to debate on news that one of PMN's key stakeholders is sitting on his hands as the papers are put on the auction block.

The New York Post yesterday reported that Alden Global Capital principal Randall Smith, owner of roughly 30 percent of the Inquirer & News properties, has remained quiet amid PMN's auction that is expected to reap about $100 million. PMN acquired the dailies out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from Philadelphia Media Holdings (see "TUOL" post 7/11/11).

Romanesko's media blog reported that PMN CEO Greg Osberg discounted the Post story, assuring PMN employees in a memo that shareholders routinely boost or reduce their ownership levels in properties and that a minority owner may only sell his percentage of ownership in the dailies, not the dailies themselves.

Alden Capital and other hedge funds doled out $139 million for their Philly stake (sorry), the Post reported, but it seems that Smith, a major shareholder in a variety of media entities, including Gannett, Freedom Communications and Journal Register Co., may be losing his taste for media empire building.

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