Tribune Publishing Co. plans to come out of the gate as a buyer, not a seller, of newspapers.
The company, set to be spun off from Tribune Co. on Aug. 4, sees opportunity in snapping up smaller papers near its bigger, established papers. Tribune Publishing will launch with eight large papers, including the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, and a slew of smaller and specialty publications. Earlier this year, Tribune bought two papers — the Annapolis Capital and Carroll County Times — to add to its Baltimore market.
We think there are more of these opportunities around the country that are geographically adjacent to where we run big papers and big brands, and that over time we can achieve similar kinds of consolidation and acquisition opportunities that are going to add meaningfully to our footprint and our revenue and our profit, Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin told Crain’s Chicago Business.
Adding smaller papers near existing publications also expands the company’s base for rolling out digital products, Griffin said.
Tribune Publishing will be saddled with about $350 million in debt, most of it going to pay a special dividend to Tribune Co. The newspaper company also will pay rent to the renamed Tribune Media Co. after the split. Tribune Media is retaining the company’s television and radio outlets as well as its real estate holdings.
The company could debut with a market value of $635 million on Aug. 5 when its shares are expected to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “TPUB.” A CRT Capital Group analyst wrote that he expects shares to trade from between $22 and $28 each.