Tribune Sale to Alden Accredited by Shareholders

The decision of Dr. Soon-Shiong, not voting, caused some confusion over the status of the deal. Approval required a two-thirds yes vote from investors other than Alden, who owns 32 percent of the shares in Tribune. The company’s shareholder motions stated that abstaining from voting would be considered a dissenting vote against the sale.

But Tribune counted the vote as “yes” because Dr. Soon-Shiong, who did not tick the “abstention” box on the ballot, said a person with knowledge of the vote and asked not to be identified in order to discuss private information.

Tribune said the deal has received approval of 81 percent of non-Alden shares and is expected to close on Tuesday.

The vote underscores the growing power of financial companies in a consolidating media industry. Investors who saw the opportunity to buy distressed assets at bargain prices have been on the rise over the past decade. They plan to make money by drastically cutting costs, laying off workers, merging operations, and selling real estate.

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May 21, 2021, 3:55 p.m. ET

During this time, Alden built a media empire through his MediaNews Group, which includes newspapers like The Denver Post and The Boston Herald. In August, family-owned publisher McClatchy was sold to hedge fund Chatham Asset Management after a bankruptcy auction. USA Today publisher Gannett was acquired in 2019 by New Media Investment Group, the parent company of GateHouse Media, with funding from private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

Alden first signaled its pursuit of Tribune when it announced in November 2019 that it had acquired a 32 percent stake in the company. Tribune, whose other publications include The Hartford Courant, The South Florida Sun Sentinel and The Virginian Pilot, has struggled to grow its digital subscription business in recent years, and has cut costs and laid off journalists in recent years. (Its latest earnings release said it had 436,000 digital subscribers as of the end of 2020.)

“The Tribune purchase confirms our commitment to the newspaper industry and our focus on bringing publications to a place where they can function sustainably over the long term,” Alden President Heath Freeman said in a statement Friday.

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