Did Ferro Want Sun-Times?

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Gannett bid may have trounced Tronc plans

Crain’s is reporting that Gannett’s bid for Tronc may have messed up plans to buy the Chicago Sun-Times, which Michael Ferro reportedly donated to charity after he acquired Tronc:

Ferro made the approach after his Merrick Media investment group paid $44 million in February for a 16.5 percent stake in then Tribune Publishing, and before Gannett made public its pursuit of Tribune Publishing in late April. Ferro’s inquiry about a Chicago Tribune/Sun-Times merger, or some type of joint operating agreement structure, was casual and didn’t lead to serious discussions, the sources said.


Wrapports (the company that owns the Sun-Times) wasn’t interested in Ferro’s suggestion partly because it had an inkling that Tronc might have a transaction in the offing with Gannett that would make the Chicago papers’ deal difficult to execute, one of the sources said. How exactly Wrapports had that knowledge isn’t clear.

Here is the reason I wrote that Wrapports/Sun-Times stock was “reportedly donated to charity:”

Sun-Times and Wrapports officials have said Ferro can no longer vote his former Wrapports ownership stake, and that the Wrapports board votes those shares. Still, some sources have said Ferro may have retained limited control of the Wrapports investment, if not the voting power, through a type of donor-designated charitable trust.

BTW, the Sun-Times already runs USA Today content in its paper, so I wonder what happens to that deal if the Gannett purchase of Tronc goes through?