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Chicago Sun-Times Sale: Investment Group Announces It Will Acquire Paper

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CHICAGO -- A new investment group led by a Chicago entrepreneur and a former Newsday media executive has agreed to buy Sun-Times Media Holdings, the company that owns the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, group officials said late Wednesday.

Wrapports LLC released a statement saying the transaction should close by year's end, though terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Sun-Times Media also owns several newspapers in suburban Chicago and Indiana.

The investment group is led by Michael Ferro Jr., CEO of private equity firm Merrick Ventures, which deals with technology companies, and Timothy Knight, the former publisher of Newsday. They said the investment company's name refers to a mix of old media, the "wrapping" of a newspaper, with the "rapport" planned by new technology.

"We look forward to introducing cutting-edge technologies, new content portals and other tools that will expand and drive richer and more satisfying content to readers, while providing more targeted and measurable promotion options for our advertising partners," Knight said in a statement.

"At a time when the public's appetite for news stories, photographs, videos and blogs has reached an unprecedented level, Sun-Times Media is poised to meet that demand by developing creative ways to deliver a true multi-media experience for our users – how they want it, where they want it, when they want it."

The Chicago Sun-Times won a Pulitzer Prize earlier this year for its local reporting on crime in city neighborhoods.

Sun-Times Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2009, after drastically cutting costs for months. Later that year, Mesirow Financial president and CEO James C. Tyree led an investment group that took the paper out of bankruptcy. Tyree died earlier this year.

Earlier this month, Sun-Times Media rolled out a system to begin charging heavy users of its websites.

Jeremy L. Halbreich, chairman and CEO of Sun-Times Media, said the sale announced Wednesday will move the organization into a new era in delivering content to readers.

"It is truly remarkable when you look at the journey that this organization has made. As a result of tough decisions and the ability to adapt to a changing industry, we have been able to maintain our role as a central figure in this city. I am proud of what we have done, and I am even prouder of where this organization is headed," Halbreich said in a statement.

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