Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing of­fers em­ployee buy­outs

Baltimore Sun - - BUSINESS - By Robert Chan­nick

Two months af­ter hedge fund Alden Global Cap­i­tal be­came the largest share­holder in Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing, the Chicago-based news­pa­per chain an­nounced a buy­out pro­gram to re­duce em­ployee head count and ex­penses.

No­tice of the vol­un­tary sep­a­ra­tion of­fer was sent to all Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing em­ploy­ees Mon­day, but only those em­ployed for eight or more years are el­i­gi­ble. De­tails and terms of the buy­out were not im­me­di­ately dis­closed, but par­tic­i­pa­tion is de­signed to “avoid turn­ing to com­pa­ny­wide re­duc­tions of the work­force as a last re­sort,” Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing CEO Tim Knight said in an email to em­ploy­ees.

“While it is our de­sire to re­tain all of our ta­lented em­ploy­ees, we must con­front and plan for the sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial hur­dles ahead,” Knight wrote.

Alden, a New York hedge fund with a rep­u­ta­tion for dramatic cost-cut­ting across its grow­ing me­dia em­pire, took a 32% stake in Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing in Novem­ber.

Two Alden rep­re­sen­ta­tives sub­se­quently were added to the news­pa­per com­pany’s board, ex­pand­ing it to eight mem­bers. As part of that agree­ment, Alden is re­stricted from in­creas­ing its stake in the com­pany to more than 33% un­til June 30.

Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing is of­fer­ing the vol­un­tary sep­a­ra­tion as the in­dus­try strug­gles with sec­u­lar rev­enue de­clines in the dig­i­tal me­dia age. While Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing has achieved growth in its dig­i­tal-only sub­scrip­tions, it con­tin­ues to re­ceive a “sig­nif­i­cant amount” of its rev­enue from its de­clin­ing legacy print busi­ness, Knight said in the email to em­ploy­ees.

“Since we re­main com­mit­ted to ex­tend­ing the life of those prod­ucts and ser­vices and to serv­ing our home de­liv­ery sub­scribers, we need to an­tic­i­pate con­tin­ued print rev­enue de­clines by re­duc­ing our ex­penses,” Knight wrote.

In ad­di­tion to the Chicago Tri­bune, Tri­bune Pub­lish­ing owns the Bal­ti­more Sun; Hart­ford Courant; Or­lando Sen­tinel; South Florida Sun Sen­tinel; the New York Daily News; the Cap­i­tal Gazette in An­napo­lis, Mary­land; The Morn­ing Call in Allentown, Penn­syl­va­nia; the Daily Press in New­port News, Vir­ginia; and The Vir­ginian-Pi­lot in Nor­folk, Vir­ginia.

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