Newsonomics: Michael Ferro’s creeping privatization of Tronc

On Thursday, Michael Ferro solidified his control of Tronc, the company he seized a more tentative kind of control of just 13 months ago, deposing then-Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin in a quick coup de press. This week’s move looked financial, but too, speaks deeply to power and control. Officially, Tronc paid $56.2 million — more than 25 percent of the company’s $200 million cash holdings as of the end of 2016 — to buy out the remaining shares of Oaktree Capital. Tronc paid $15 per share, a 14 percent premium to the day’s closing market price. Getting that deal done wasn’t easy for Ferro, as Oaktree — a long-time major holder of Tribune, then Tribune Publishing, then Tronc shares — demanded and got an even better deal, one unusual in “stock buyback” transactions. Within the next year, should Tronc itself be sold for more than $15 per share, Continue reading "Newsonomics: Michael Ferro’s creeping privatization of Tronc"

Newsonomics: Softbank, Fortress, Trump – and the real story of Gatehouse’s boundless ambition

Sometimes when you connect the dots, you just get more dots. It looked like head-turning news: A Japanese company had taken control of one of America’s largest newspaper chains, New Media Investment Group, a.k.a. GateHouse Media. Tuesday’s headline: “Robotics and tech firm SoftBank Japan purchases newspaper company GateHouse Media”. As Softbank’s acquisition of New York City-based Fortress Investment Group was announced last week, it appeared, on the surface, as if the direction of more than 100 U.S. dailies would be in the hands of non-Americans. Plus, as feels universally true in these bewildering times, there appeared to even be a link to Donald Trump. Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son had been one of the first chief executives to make the trek to Trump Tower in December, to pay fealty to the incoming president. His supposed promise, accompanied by the firm Trump hand on Son’s shoulder: $50 billion Continue reading "Newsonomics: Softbank, Fortress, Trump – and the real story of Gatehouse’s boundless ambition"

This anti-Brexit newspaper first launched as a pop-up, but it’s doing well enough to continue indefinitely

Last summer, two weeks after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, the British regional publisher Archant launched a new weekly newspaper, The New European, aimed at the 48 percent of British voters who didn’t support Brexit. The New European was supposed to be a “pop-up” newspaper, with a planned run of just four weeks. But the publication has developed enough of a following that Archant has decided to continue publishing through at least the end of the year, editor Matt Kelly, who is also Archant’s chief content officer, told me. And while The New European started out as a print-only publication, it’s since added a digital presence that is pulling in more than a million pageviews a month. “The expectation when we launched was that there would be several weeks of really acute interest in this topic, and then it would wane and Continue reading "This anti-Brexit newspaper first launched as a pop-up, but it’s doing well enough to continue indefinitely"