Tribune Publishing to buy U-T San Diego for $85M

The nearly 147-year-old newspaper, formerly known as the San Diego Union-Tribune, has been for sale since summer

By Robert Channick - May 7, 2015

Tribune Publishing to buy U-T San Diego for $85 million

Tribune Publishing has entered into an agreement to buy San Diego's flagship newspaper for $85 million..

The deal, confirmed Thursday evening, includes $73 million in cash and $12 million in Tribune Publishing common stock for the U-T San Diego newspaper, as well as nine community weeklies and related websites. Tribune Publishing also will assume pension obligations.

Tribune Publishing will not take possession of any real estate assets in the deal, which is expected to close this quarter.

"The acquisition of San Diego Union-Tribune and its related community properties is expected to be accretive to Tribune Publishing and reflects our continuing drive to create value for our shareholders," Jack Griffin, CEO of Tribune Publishing, said in a statement. "This represents another step forward in our strategy to leverage our publishing infrastructure, resources and management teams."

When the transaction closes, Austin Beutner, publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times, will assume the same role with U-T San Diego and the newly formed California News Group.

"San Diego Union-Tribune will retain editorial independence, providing an authentic voice that reflects the diversity of the state and the distinct values of our communities," Beutner said. "I also know the Los Angeles Times will benefit with a closer connection to its older sibling down south."

The nearly 147-year-old newspaper, formerly known as the San Diego Union-Tribune, has been for sale since summer, according to reports. The current owner, San Diego real estate developer Doug Manchester, purchased U-T San Diego for a reported $110 million in November 2011.

Another former Chicagoan in SD.....anything is an improvement for that rag of a paper, which prints obits and concert reviews on the same page. The PennySaver could lay out a newspaper better.

Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, which includes the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and eight other daily newspapers, spun off from Tribune Media in August as a stand-alone, publicly traded company.

Last year, U-T San Diego reported an average Sunday circulation of 268,038 and an average weekday circulation of about 190,000, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

The purchase of U-T San Diego dovetails with Tribune Publishing's strategy of acquiring properties adjacent to its existing newspapers.

In October, Tribune Publishing acquired 38 suburban Chicago newspapers from Sun-Times Media for $23.5 million. The Capital in Annapolis and the Carroll County Times, both of Maryland, were purchased in May 2014 from Norfolk, Va.-based Landmark Media Enterprises for nearly $30 million, expanding the reach of the company's Baltimore Sun. The new acquisitions proved profitable during the first quarter, generating $17 million in revenue against operating expenses of $14 million, the company said.

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