By David B. Wilkerson
The San Diego Union-Tribune has been sold to private equity firm Platinum Equity for an undisclosed amount, the newspaper said Wednesday, in a rather surprising development given the depressed near-term outlook for the newspaper industry.
The Union-Tribune had been on the block since last July, when privately held Copley Press said it was exploring strategic options for the newspaper.
Louis Samson, principal at Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Platinum, is quoted by the newspaper as saying the company has a "long history of creating value" under "difficult market transitions," and that the Union-Tribune is "a good fit."
Platinum's team includes David H. Black, whose Black Press owns the Honolulu-Star Bulletin and the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal, among other newspapers, the Union-Tribune said.
Newspapers, already struggling to cope with a shift toward online consumption of news and information in recent years, have buckled under the weight of a global economic collapse triggered in September by the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros. (LEHMQ).
Last December, Tribune Co. (TRBCQ), publisher of the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun and other major dailies, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The parent of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune followed suit a month later.
Also in January, Gannett Co. (GCI), the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, said it would shut down the Tucson Citizen if it could not find a buyer for the publication.
In February, Philadelphia Newspapers LLC and Journal Register Co.m (JRCOQ) filed for bankruptcy, and Hearst Corp. warned that it may shut down the San Francisco Chronicle unless it could drastically cut operating costs.
This week, Hearst opted to shut down the print operations of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, turning it into a Web-only publication with a small editorial staff.
David B. Wilkerson; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com