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Alden discloses 32% stake in Tribune Publishing

Hedge fund’s holdings go beyond its deal with Michael Ferro Jr.

Michael Ferro Jr.

Alden Global Capital, known for relentless cost-cutting, disclosed Monday that it controls 32% of Tribune Publishing, owner of the Chicago Tribune, because it has added to a deal it made last week with Michael Ferro Jr. The hedge fund bought Ferro’s 25% percent stake in a bulk sale.

The additional stake was acquired from Oct. 30 through Monday at prices ranging from $8.46 a share to $12.98, Alden said in the regulatory filing. Shares of the company rose after news on Nov. 19 that Alden bought Ferro’s holdings for $13 a share. The filing did not disclose sellers of the additional shares.

Alden is negotiating to add two members to Tribune’s board, expanding it to eight from six. Its filing also said Alden will consider adding or reducing its stake at any time.

One possibility is that Alden could acquire shares from Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who at last report had about a 24% stake in the company. A spokesperson said Soon-Shiong, owner of the Los Angeles Times, declined to comment Monday.

Alden is a New York-based hedge fund that owns a large chain of print publications — including the Denver Post, The Mercury News of San Jose and the St. Paul Pioneer Press —called Media News Group, formerly Digital First Media. It is known for its steep cost cutting that has reduced local news coverage, prompting congressional scrutiny. Media News owns about 100 publications, including dailies and weeklies.