The Chicago Sun-Times, the city's second biggest newspaper whose recent financial woes led to a bankruptcy declaration in 2009 and the recent erection of a paywall for most web content, has been sold along with its holding company to a group of investors led by Michael Ferro Jr., CEO of Merrick Ventures LLC, and John Canning Jr., Chairman of Madison Dearborn Partners LLC.
The sale includes the newspaper's suburban daily and weekly newspapers and will reportedly close as early as Monday, with a price tag of more than $20 million, Crain's Chicago Business reports. The sale is expected to be formally announced Wednesday.
The impact of the sale on Sun-Times Media Chairman Jeremy Halbreich has yet to be announced, but the Chicago Tribune reports that Timothy Knight, former publisher and CEO of Newsday, has been tapped as CEO of the holding company.
The newspaper's former chairman, Mesiro Financial CEO James Tyree, died suddenly in March of an embolism, NBC Chicago reports. Tyree's group bought the failing company in October 2009 for $5 million and absorbed $20 million in liabilities.
Some sources are speculating that the sale could be accompanied by a partnership or other new relationship with the Chicago News Cooperative. Ferro and Canning, believed to be investing as individuals, are both board members at the nonprofit, Crain's reports. Other board members reportedly signed non-disclosure agreements related to the sale.
Sun-Times newspaper circulation reportedly dropped between five and 10 percent across the board this year, according to the Tribune. The media group's average daily circulation ranks 12th overall among U.S. weekday newspapers.
Earlier this month, Halbreich told the Tribune that the company was "not for sale, we have never been put up for sale."
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