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Tribune Publishing CEO leaves the company

CFO assumes Timothy Knight’s roles ahead of potential takeover by hedge fund.

Timothy Knight
Timothy Knight
Sun-Times file

The owner of the Chicago Tribune said Monday that Timothy Knight, its president and chief executive officer, is leaving the company, which faces a possible takeover by a hedge fund known for cost-cutting at other news operations.

Tribune Publishing said Knight will exit the company at the end of February and has stepped down from its board. It said Terry Jimenez, currently the executive vice president and chief financial officer, has assumed Knight’s roles.

In addition, Philip Franklin, chairman of the board’s audit committee, has been named non-executive chairman. Franklin, formerly chief financial officer at Littelfuse, succeeds David Dreier, who will stay on the board.

The executive shuffling comes as Tribune Publishing faces a potential takeover by Alden Global Capital, which has acquired 32% of the stock. Alden has two seats on the Tribune board but has agreed not to buy more shares or try to exert control through June 30.

Aside from the Chicago Tribune, the company owns other major newspapers such as the New York Daily News and the Baltimore Sun. It has ordered job cuts across its properties by offering buyouts to certain employees with eight or more years of service.

A company news release quoted Knight: “This past year we have been focused on stabilizing Tribune financially so that we can continue to invest in quality, local journalism, which is the key to the company’s long-term success. Thanks to the combined efforts of our newsrooms and our digital-product and digital-consumer-marketing groups, our digital-only subscriptions and associated revenue increased significantly in 2019. Tribune is in a solid position to continue its transformation and Terry is the right person to lead the company at this stage. I look forward to working with him as we transition responsibilities over the next month.”

Knight formerly ran the Sun-Times.

Tribune also said Mike Lavey, current controller and chief accounting officer, has been named interim chief financial officer.

“These changes are a natural transition as Tribune Publishing works to reduce its corporate and back-office costs and streamline its real estate footprint,” Dreier said. “Phil and Terry both have strong financial and operational backgrounds, which are extraordinarily valuable.” Dreier is a former member of the U.S. House from California.

Through its control of Media News Group, Alden owns about 100 publications across the U.S., including the Denver Post and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.