Chatham Asset Management plans to buy the bankrupt McClatchy newspaper chain in the latest hedge-fund takeover of a major news publisher.
New Jersey-based Chatham was named the winning bidder Sunday of a bankruptcy auction for the publisher of 30 local newspapers including the Miami Herald, the Sacramento Bee and the Kansas City Star.
The companies did not reveal the price of the deal. But Chatham and fellow hedge fund Brigade Capital Management had put together a bid worth more than $300 million in an auction that drew more than 20 potential buyers, as The Post previously reported.
The deal will also restructure McClatchy’s hefty debt burden linked to its 2006 takeover of rival news publisher Knight-Ridder, along with its pension obligations, which helped push the company into bankruptcy.
A federal bankruptcy court has to approve the agreement, and a hearing is set for July 24.
McClatchy is poised to exit bankruptcy in the third quarter of this year under the deal with Chatham. The company indicated that it will emerge from Chapter 11 with all of its publications intact — though their future is uncertain as the news industry takes a beating from the coronavirus pandemic.
McClatchy President and CEO Craig Forman said he was “pleased” that Chatham and the company’s other creditors “believe in our business and our mission and are helping to achieve these goals.”
“Local journalism has never been more vital and we remain steadfast in our commitment to delivering on our mission and continuing to serve our communities,” Forman added in a statement.
Chatham was McClatchy’s biggest debt holder and shareholder when the Sacramento-based chain filed for bankruptcy in February. The fund run by Anthony Melchiorre also owns American Media Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer, and the Postmedia newspaper chain in Canada.
Alden Global Capital — another hedge fund with a reputation for gutting local papers under its MediaNews Group banner, which owns dozens of outlets including the Denver Post — also emerged as a potential bidder for McClatchy last week before Chatham was picked as the winner, according to reports.
With Post wires