An investment group led by former Chicago Ald. Edwin Eisendrath has submitted a bid against Chicago Tribune parent company Tronc Inc. to buy the Chicago Sun-Times and weekly Chicago Reader.
“We have received a bid from a group led by Edwin Eisendrath and we are currently evaluating the proposal,” Sun-Times Publisher and Editor In Chief Jim Kirk said in an email.
In an email to employees on Tuesday, Kirk said: “Over the next few days, we will evaluate the bid, including whether it meets the standards agreed to with the U.S. Department of Justice at the outset of this process. As we have throughout this process, we will work closely with the Justice Department as we proceed to the next phase.”
The group, which includes several labor organizations and about a dozen other investors, made a bid of $15 million to buy the Sun-Times and Reader from Wrapports LLC, media critic Robert Feder reported.
The “minimum capitalization” for bidders was $11.2 million, Feder reported.
“Proud to make a bid to purchase the @Suntimes and @Chicago_Reader with a group of great Chicagoans including Labor,” Eisendrath tweeted Monday afternoon.
“Only coming out of Chicago could we put together something that’s progressive but not elite,” Eisendrath told Feder. “Great journalism in a great democracy means that the 99 percent should recognize themselves in what gets written.”
Bidders had a deadline of 5 p.m. on Monday to submit proposals. Brad Bulkley, the broker for the Wrapports sale, said in an email that multiple bids were received and were “being carefully reviewed.”
Eisendrath did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Representatives for Tronc and the Department of Justice, which is overseeing the Wrapports sale, declined to comment after the bidding deadline.
The Chicago Federation of Labor, an umbrella group representing more than 300 labor unions in Cook County, with a collective membership of more than 500,000, is part of Eisendrath’s group.
“We’re very excited and look forward to an opportunity to help grow the Sun-Times as the working class news organization of the City of Chicago,” CFL secretary-treasurer Bob Reiter said.
“We’re elated that there is at least one strong bid to counter Tronc,” said David Roeder, a consultant for the Chicago News Guild, which represents Sun-Times reporters and other media members. “We just hope the Department of Justice will look at this and see there are better alternatives to Tronc out there.”
Last month, Tronc announced it had a letter of intent to purchase the Sun-Times, Reader and other media assets owned by Wrapports. The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, which traditionally has frowned on single entities controlling multiple media operations in the same market, required the Sun-Times to publish an advertisement seeking other bids.
Both Tronc and Wrapports have said the Tribune and Sun-Times would operate as separate, independent voices if Tronc acquires Wrapports.
Reiter said last week that the Sun-Times would maintain its freedom to investigate and report on labor unions.