In a conference call with reporters late Friday afternoon, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell confirmed he and a group of investors have made a “non-binding expression of interest” in purchasing the Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com.
Rendell said the group developed the proposal after the current owners of the paper had an independent group solicit expressions of interest. He said he believes his group is not the only party that has submitted such an expression.
Joining Rendell in the proposal are Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider, New Jersey businessman Lewis Katz, New Jersey power broker George Norcross, real estate executive William Hankowsky, and businessman Krishna Singh.
Rendell said he hopes to widen the group of investors, whose interest he said is not to maximize profit but to ensure the region has strong local media with committed local owners.
The overriding goal, he said, “is to keep the Philadelphia Media Network here in Philadelphia, keep the newspapers alive, to grow the online capacity and reach of the Philadelphia Media Network, and make it an even greater force for good than it’s been.”
Asked if the group would keep the Daily News open in addition to the Inquirer, Rendell said, “We would do everything we could. It’s my strong belief that both papers perform separate and distinct functions and they’re both important.”
Noting that he writes a sports column for the Daily News, Rendell added, “I’m not sure I’d be part of a group that costs me my job.”
UPDATE: 5:04 p.m.
PMN spokesman Mark Block said the company had no comment on any of the developments. The Inquirer reported Friday that Greg Osberg, CEO of PMN, issued a statement to the company’s employees that did not deny the company had engaged an investment banker.
“Given the quality of our local media franchise, we receive frequent inbound interest,” Osberg said in an e-mail to employees. “We will not comment on rumors as we continually evaluate the operations and prospects for the company to determine the best course of action for our shareholders and the company.
“The best thing for PMN, our customers and our shareholders is to continue to enhance the products, editorial and operational excellence that we deliver to the Philadelphia region every day. Let’s continue to work hard to make 2012 a success.”