Delaware judge hears Philly newspaper union plan to buy Inquirer and Daily News



With the newspaper union given its turn to outline a bidding plan, the saga over the purchase of the Philadelphia newspapers has concluded for the week.

On Wednesday, the Newspaper Guild of Philadelphia described its proposal to partner with a half-dozen investors in an attempt to buy the city’s biggest newspapers from their quarreling owners.

The union plans to acquire the Philadelphia Daily News, Inquirer and with financial backing from 96-year-old multimillionaire Raymond Pearleman, the Communication Workers of America union and four other unnamed investors.

William Ross, executive director of the guild, said his organization has not received a written commitment from the financial backers because they have not received financial records from the papers.

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Despite this delay, Ross said that his backers have the finances to pay upwards of $70 million for the media enterprise. Pearleman tried to purchase the papers in 2010 for $85 million.

The guild represents hundreds of writers, photographers and other staff who have endured ups and downs as the paper changed ownership five times in the last seven years.

Ross said the company’s pension went into a “death spiral” after the papers went bankrupt in 2008. Beyond this, the union gave millions in salary and other concessions to the current owners.

The current owners have been in dispute over how to manage the publications for the past year and are trying to dissolve the partnership in Delaware Chancery Court.

During testimony earlier this week, employees who testified said that the disputes among the owners hurt advertising and circulation and lowered company morale.

Co-owner George Norcross wants a private auction to be held among shareholders, including the newspaper guild, while co-owners Lewis Katz and Gerry Lenfest want a public auction that is open to all bidders.

The hearings will continue next week, but it is uncertain when Vice Chancellor Donald Parsons’ verdict will be issued.

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