DOJ Ramps Up Investigation of Sun-Times Sale

Publisher of the Chicago Tribune to acquire tabloid rival Sun-Times

If the deal goes through, the Sun-Times newsroom will continue as an independent newsroom, said Tronc, which also owns the Los Angeles Times, the Orlando Sentinel, the Baltimore Sun and other newspapers. The plan didn't work, however, and Murdoch sold the paper just a couple of years later.

Tronc, owner of the Chicago Tribune, is trying to buy its tabloid rival, the Chicago Sun-Times, and has signed a 15-day non-binding letter to acquire the tabloid's parent company, Wrapports Holdings.

In a statement, the Justice Department said it was monitoring the deal. In 2014, the Tribune bought the Sun-Times' suburban newspapers.

Chicago-based Wrapports LLC announced in a statement it has agreed to enter into discussions with tronc Inc., owner of several major newspapers, after failing to interest other media companies in acquiring the Sun-Times. In 2011, the Sun-Times was acquired by Wrapports, an investor group assembled by prominent Chicago investor John Canning but led by Ferro, for about $20 million, from the estate of James Tyree, who had recently died after having led the newspaper out of its 2009 bankruptcy.

"The acquisition is the latest in nearly a decade of transactions between the owners of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times", said Tim Knight, president of troncX who also heads mergers and acquisitions for the company.

If no viable buyer expresses substantial interest within 15 days of the advertisement, Wrapports says it will sell the Sun-Times to tronc.

The announcement follows months of discussions between Wrapports and Tronc and after both organizations worked closely with the Department of Justice's antitrust division.

If a viable buyer other than tronc fails to make a case, "tronc and Wrapports intend to continue pursuing a deal to successfully close the transaction", Wrapports said.

According to the Chicago Historical Society, the Sun-Times traces its history to 1844, with the launch of the Chicago Evening Journal.

The specific terms of the potential transaction are not yet finalized.

Chicago's media scene could get a lot smaller - so long as the Justice Department approves.

Tronc has pledged to continue to publish the tabloid and to maintain independent newsrooms if it is successful in the takeover.

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