Hedge fund makes bid to buy almost all local newspapers in Virginia

Local News

Lee Enterprises acquisition would include Richmond Times-Dispatch

Hedge fund Alden Global Capital, one of the country’s largest newspaper owners with a reputation for intense cost cuts and layoffs, has offered to buy the local newspaper chain Lee Enterprises for about $141 million. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, file)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund based in New York, is moving to consolidate its hold on the newspaper industry by purchasing Lee Enterprises, according to a report from Business Wire.

Earlier this year, Alden purchased Tribune Publishing, an acquisition that brought with it The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press, major newspapers serving the Hampton Roads area.

Lee Enterprises acquired a number of newspapers across central and western Virginia just over two years ago in a $140 million deal with BH Media Group that was part of Berkshire Hathaway. Lee’s newspapers currently include the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Roanoke Times and Charlottesville Daily Progress, along with a number of local news outlets in Virginia and other states.

In a letter to the Board of Directors of Lee Enterprises, Alden indicated they intended to pay $24 per share to acquire the company – and added they “have the ability to fully finance this all-cash proposal and the definitive merger agreement will not include a financing condition.”

According to the letter, Alden expects to complete the deal “in approximately four weeks.”

If Lee Enterprises accepts the bid, Alden would control most major local print news outlets in Virginia, including major “papers of record” in Hampton Roads, central Virginia, the Shenandoah Valley, and southwest Virginia.

The largest paper remaining outside of Alden’s control would be the Washington Post which, in addition to covering national and global news, reports local news in the northern Virginia region. The Post is currently owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Alden has been criticized in the past for ruthless cost-cutting measures, leading to accusations that the company is a “vulture capital” fund.

In their letter, Alden said they were “committed to ensuring communities nationwide have access to robust, independently minded local journalism.”

An AP report observed that after its acquisition of Tribune, one of Alden’s first moves was to transfer massive debt to the beleaguered newspapers. Before the purchase, the papers had had a net surplus of cash, despite years of contracting markets.

Lee Enterprises has not yet made a public statement on the proposed purchase.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

StormTracker 8

Trending Stories

More Trending Stories

Local Events