Alden Global Capital
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American hedge fund
Alden Global Capital is a hedge fund based in Manhattan, New York City. It was founded in 2007 by Randall D. Smith. Its managing director is Heath Freeman. By mid-2020, through its MediaNews Group, Alden had stakes in roughly two hundred American newspapers.
Newspapers in Alden’s portfolio include The Denver Post, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Boston Herald, The Mercury News of San Jose, the East Bay Times, and The Orange County Register. The company acquired Digital First Media in 2010 after its parent company, MediaNews Group, declared bankruptcy. In February 2021, after initially acquiring a significant stake in shares of the Tribune Publishing Company, a deal to take full ownership was announced.
Alden has a reputation for cutting costs by reducing the number of journalists working on its newspapers. In March 2018, Margaret Sullivan, the media columnist for The Washington Post, called Alden “one of the most ruthless of the corporate strip-miners seemingly intent on destroying local journalism.” Alden received critical coverage from the editorial staff at the Denver Post, who described Alden Global Capital as “vulture capitalists” after multiple staff layoffs.
Under the acquisition plan, MediaNews Group debt fell to $165 million from about $930 million. Senior lenders under the deal were to swap debt for stock. MediaNews Group came out of bankruptcy in March 2010 under the majority ownership of its lenders. The appointees to the MediaNews board were replaced by new directors representing the stockholders group led by Alden Global Capital. Several interim executive positions were also filled by people related to Alden or its parent, Smith Management LLC.
In February 2021, Tribune Publishing announced that it has agreed to be wholly acquired by Alden At the time of the announcement, Alden owned 32 percent of the company. Under the terms of the agreement, it will buy the remaining shares for $17.25 apiece. This implies a valuation of $630 million. Tribune Publishing publishes nine major metropolitan dailies. These include the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, and The Baltimore Sun. Alone among the nine papers, the Baltimore Sun will not be part of the acquisition. It will instead go to a nonprofit formed by Stewart Bainum Jr.
Pension fund controversy
The company has been criticized for investing money for pensions of newspaper employees in funds it manages itself.
“Alden Global Capital LLC – NEW YORK , NY”. investingreview.org. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
“Company Overview of Alden Global Capital LLC”. Bloomberg. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
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Jacobson, Savannah (June 29, 2020). “The most feared owner in American journalism looks set to take some of its greatest assets”. Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
Ember, Sydney (April 12, 2018). “Colorado Group Pushes to Buy Embattled Denver Post From New York Hedge Fund”. The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
Ember, Sydney (April 7, 2018). “Denver Post Rebels Against Its Hedge-Fund Ownership”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
Tracy, Marc (February 16, 2021). “Hedge Fund Reaches a Deal to Buy Tribune Publishing”. New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
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Bauerlein, Monika (May 15, 2020). ““News is just like waste management.““. Mother Jones. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
Sullivan, Margaret (March 15, 2018). “Is this strip-mining or journalism? ‘Sobs, gasps, expletives’ over latest Denver Post layoffs”. The Washington Post. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
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- Doctor, Ken. “Newsonomics: By selling to America’s worst newspaper owners, Michael Ferro ushers the vultures into Tribune”, November 2019, Nieman Lab. Accessed February 13, 2020.
McCarty, Dawn; Bensinger, Greg (January 22, 2010). “Affiliated Media Files for Bankruptcy to Restructure (Update2)”. Business Week. Bloomberg. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
Langeveld, Martin (January 20, 2011). “The shakeup at MediaNews: Why it could be the leadup to a massive newspaper consolidation”. Nieman Journalism Lab. The Nieman Foundation for Journalism (Harvard University). Retrieved February 22, 2011.
O’Connell, Jonathan (April 17, 2019). “The hedge fund trying to buy Gannett faces federal probe after investing newspaper workers’ pensions in its own funds”. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 17, 2019. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
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