Auction of Philly papers draws near

    Tuesday morning in Philadelphia, the partners who’ve been dueling for control of Interstate General Media will end their squabbling through a private auction.

    The highest bidder between the warring camps will walk away with The Inquirer, the Daily News, Philly.com and other properties. The beginning price has been set by a judge at $77 million.   Each bid has to top the previous one by at least $1 million, and each side will have 10 minutes to decide whether to up its bid.

    On one side of the table will be power broker George Norcross, an insurance magnate who is chair of the Cooper Health System and calls a lot of the shots in South Jersey Democratic politics.

    On the other side will be Lewis Katz, former owner of the New Jersey Nets and Devils, and philanthropist Gerry Lenfest, who made a fortune in cable television.

    The men have been fighting over direction and control of the shrinking media empire almost since they bought it in 2012.  Formation of Interstate General Media was the result of a bankruptcy filed by previous owners of the media properties.

    One highly interested observer will be Inquirer editor Bill Marimow, whom Norcoss has already tried to fire.  Marimow got his job back last November as part of the legal proceedings leading up to this auction.

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