Swiss Billionaire Ends Bid for Tribune Publishing

Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, who seemed to have come out of nowhere last month to make a serious offer to Tribune Publishing, a large newspaper chain, has decided to withdraw from the offer, according to three knowledgeable people.

Two of the respondents said the decision was made in the past few days after Mr. Wyss’s staff reviewed the Tribune’s finances as part of a due diligence process.

The two people added that Mr Wyss had come to believe that it would be difficult for him to realize his ambition to turn The Chicago Tribune – the company’s flagship and the one he was most interested in – into a national one To convert publication. The three knowledgeable people spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss the deal publicly.

Mr. Wyss, who had made his fortune as a medical device maker, had joined Maryland hotel manager Stewart Bainum Jr. to prevent Tribune from wholly owned by its largest shareholder, New York, hedge fund Alden Global Capital .

Recognition…The Wyss Foundation and Oceana

At the end of March, Mr. Wyss and Mr. Bainum had put together an offer of $ 18.50 per share that valued the chain at $ 680 million. It took Tribune more than a month to reach a non-binding agreement to sell to Alden for $ 17.25 a share. On April 5, Tribune Publishing announced that its select committee had determined that Mr Wyss and Mr Bainum’s offer would reasonably result in a “superior proposal” compared to Alden’s offer.

As Alden is known for reducing the costs of the 60 or so daily newspapers it controls through its subsidiary MediaNews Group, journalists from Tribune Publications welcomed the surprising entry of Mr Wyss and Mr Bainum into the tender.

Mr. Wyss and Mr. Bainum declined to comment. The Tribune’s special committee also declined to comment.

Mr. Bainum, who had shown a particular interest in another Tribune newspaper, The Baltimore Sun, remains committed to pursuing ownership of Tribune Publishing. With Mr. Wyss no longer at his side, he is looking for new financing, said the three people. Mr Bainum told the Tribune’s Special Committee that Mr Wyss left on Friday, two respondents said, confirming his resignation from the deal in writing on Saturday.

Born in Bern, Switzerland and with a home in Wyoming, Mr. Wyss first visited the United States as an exchange student in 1958 and worked as a journalist as a young man. A decade ago, as managing director of the Swiss-based medical device manufacturer Synthes, he oversaw the sale to Johnson & Johnson for around 20 billion US dollars.

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