Alden Global Capital

Alden Global Capital is a hedge fund based in Manhattan, New York City. It was founded in 2007 by Randall D. Smith.[2] Its managing director is Heath Freeman.[2][3] By mid-2020, Alden had stakes in roughly two hundred American newspapers.[4][5] The company added more newspapers to its portfolio in May 2021 when it purchased Tribune Publishing and became the second-largest newspaper publisher in the United States.[6][7][8][9]

Alden Global Capital
TypePrivately held company
IndustryInvestment management
Founded2007
FounderRandall D. Smith
Headquarters
Lipstick Building, New York City, U.S.
Key people
Heath Freeman
ProductsHedge funds
AUM$1.04 billion
Number of employees
15[1]
Websitealdenglobal.com

The company operates its media holdings through Digital First Media (DFM), which it acquired in 2010 after DMG's parent company, MediaNews Group, declared bankruptcy.[10] With its acquisition of Tribune Publishing in late May 2021, Alden is collectively the second-largest owner of newspapers in the United States, as calculated by average daily print circulation, second only to Gannett.[11]

Particularly noteworthy newspapers in Alden's portfolio include the Chicago Tribune, The Denver Post, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Boston Herald, The Mercury News of San Jose, the East Bay Times, The Orange County Register, and the Orlando Sentinel.[12]

Alden has a reputation for sharply cutting costs by reducing the number of journalists working on its newspapers.[13][14] 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."[15] Alden received critical coverage from the editorial staff at the Denver Post, who described Alden Global Capital as "vulture capitalists" after multiple staff layoffs.[10][16][17]

AcquisitionsEdit

MediaNews GroupEdit

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.[18] 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.[19]

Tribune PublishingEdit

In May 2021, Tribune Publishing finalized its sale to Alden, after having announced in February 2021 that it intended to pursue this path.[7][8] Alden's purchase price was $635 million, or $17.25 per share.[8][20] Tribune Publishing publishes nine major metropolitan dailies. These include the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, and The Baltimore Sun.

Alden began its acquisition of Tribune Publishing in 2019, when they paid $117.9 million to Michael Ferro for his 25.2-percent stake.[4]

Attempt at GannettEdit

In 2019, Alden attempted, but failed at, a hostile takeover of Gannett.[4]

Lee Enterprises shareEdit

Alden purchased a 5.9-percent stake in Lee Enterprises in January 2020. Lee Enterprises owns about 75 daily newspapers, including the Buffalo News, Omaha World-Herald and the Tulsa World.[4]

Pension fund managementEdit

The company has been criticized for investing money for pensions of newspaper employees in funds it manages itself.[21]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Alden Global Capital LLC – NEW YORK , NY". investingreview.org. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Company Overview of Alden Global Capital LLC". Bloomberg. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  3. ^ Ellison, Sarah, "Heath Freeman of Alden Global Capital says he wants to save local news. Somehow, no one's buying it.", The Washington Post, June 11, 2020. Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  4. ^ a b c d 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.
  5. ^ Nicholson, Kieran (March 8, 2018). "Minority shareholder sues Denver Post parent and NY hedge fund over 'breaches of fiduciary duty'". The Denver Post. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  6. ^ Yoksoulian, Lois (June 2, 2021). "What does the Chicago Tribune sale mean for the future of newsrooms?". Illinois News Bureau. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Folkenflik, David (May 21, 2021). "'Vulture' Fund Alden Global, Known For Slashing Newsrooms, Buys Tribune Papers". NPR. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c Tracy, Marc (February 16, 2021). "Hedge Fund Reaches a Deal to Buy Tribune Publishing". New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  9. ^ Jackson, David, and Gary Marx, "Opinion - Will The Chicago Tribune Be the Next Newspaper Picked to the Bone?" (op-ed), New York Times, January 19, 2020. Note: The writers were investigative reporters at The Chicago Tribune. Accessed January 20, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Ember, Sydney (April 7, 2018). "Denver Post Rebels Against Its Hedge-Fund Ownership". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  11. ^ Alpert, Lukas (May 21, 2021). "Tribune Says Sale to Alden Wins Approval Amid Confusion Over Key Shareholder's Vote". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Bauerlein, Monika (May 15, 2020). ""News is just like waste management."". Mother Jones. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  14. ^ Izadi, Elahe; Ellison, Sarah. "The battle for Tribune: Inside the campaign to find new owners for a legendary group of newspapers". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Sanchez, Robert. "How Massive Cuts Have Remade The Denver Post", 5280 (magazine), September 2016.  Accessed February 13, 2020.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ McCarty, Dawn; Bensinger, Greg (January 22, 2010). "Affiliated Media Files for Bankruptcy to Restructure (Update2)". Business Week. Bloomberg. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ "Alden Global Capital to buy Tribune in deal valued at $630 million".
  21. ^ 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.