Digital First Media, the parent company of the Daily News and the rest of the Los Angeles News Group properties, announced Sunday that it has put forth the stalking horse bid for the assets of bankrupt Freedom Communications, the longtime parent of the Orange County Register newspaper. Digital First's bid is $45.5 million for the Register and the sister Riverside paper, the Press-Enterprise, but does not include the pension liabilities of Freedom. Bids were also believed to be submitted by Tribune Publishing, the parent of the Los Angeles Times, and an internal group led by Register CEO and publisher Rich Mirman.
The way I understand it, an auction is held Wednesday and the winner (if you can call it that) is approved at a hearing on March 21 in bankruptcy court in Santa Ana. I don't have a clear sense of how things would proceed after that. All the commentary seems to think Tribune would face anti-trust issues because by owning the Times and Register it would establish a monopoly in Orange County.
Here's a note that went out to the LANG newsrooms on Sunday.
From: Ron Hasse
Date: March 13, 2016 at 1:07:19 PM PDT
Subject: [All LANG employees] Important News from DFM
The link below is to a story we just published announcing that Digital First Media has been selected as the stalking-horse bidder for the Freedom Communications properties.
The Freedom publications, consisting of the Orange County Register and the Riverside Press Enterprise, are in the process of bankruptcy and a new owner will emerge when the process is complete. The Tribune Company, a local bidder, and Digital First Media are all believed to be in the ownership bidding process.
Being selected as the stalking-horse bidder is a significant step for us in our efforts but it does not mean we have been selected as the new owner - that decision will likely be made next week during an ownership auction. We will have more news to report as the process develops, but I wanted you to know the facts of today's announcement.
Please read the story for further details: