Swiss Billionaire Hansjörg Wyss Pulls Out Of Tribune Publishing Bid

Almost a month after making a serious offer to buy Tribune Publishing, Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss has pulled out of a bid to purchase the Chicago-based newspaper chain. According to people privy to the development, his partner in the bid is still committed to the deal. Wyss apparently took this decision after releasing that his long-term plan to converting the flagship Chicago Tribune into a national publication would require huge investment. Sources said that Wyss had plans to make it a national paper but he later realized that it would be ‘extremely difficult’ without proper investment planning.

Wyss has informed Maryland hotel executive Stewart Bainum about his decision. Earlier, the pair had joined hands to purchase the newspaper chain and had put a fully financed bid of USD 680 million bid. They had formed a nonbinding proposal by an entity called Newslight. It priced the newspaper at USD 18.50 per share, which was more than the offer of USD 17.15 per share by hedge fund Alden Global Capital. Newslight was examining the financial records of the Tribune so that a proper decision can be made before putting a firm offer on the table. Sources now said that the final offer was expected within few days. But it will be delayed as arrangements for another financing will be made.

Bainum has suffered a big blow because of the exit of Wyss from the deal. Wyss is a former chief executive officer of the Synthes that manufactures medical devices. While Wyss had agreed to contribute USD 505 for the deal, Bainum was supposed to give USD 100 million to complete the deal. Tribune Publishing has so far not commented on the development. The New York-based hedge which had earlier reached an agreement to buy the newspaper too has declined to comment. Alden had agreed in February to buy the rest of the company for USD 17.25 per share. The deal, which valued Tribune at about USD 633 million, required regulatory approval as well as approval from other shareholders.

Dorothy Martin