Union-Tribune sold to private equity firm – Platinum Equity

by on March 18, 2009 · 5 comments

in Economy, Media, San Diego

Today we heard (tip to Voice of San Diego)  that our favorite monopoly press – the San Diego Union-Tribune – has been sold to Platinum Equity – a private equity firm in Beverly Hills.  Here is how they describe themselves:

Platinum Equity is a global M&A&O® [merger, acquisition, operations] firm specializing in the merger, acquisition and operation of companies that provide services and solutions to customers in a broad range of business markets, including information technology, telecommunications, logistics, metals services, manufacturing and distribution. …

The majority of the Company’s client lineup is the result of acquisitions made with blue chip corporations including Ryerson, General Electric, Hays Plc, Weyerhaeuser, Cardinal Health, Textron, TUI AG, CompuCom, Alcatel, Kemper Services, Motorola, Lucent Technologies, Fujitsu, AT&T and IBM.

Founded in 1995 by Tom Gores, it’s world headquarters is in Los Angeles.

The U-T on its own sale reported:

Copley executive vice president Harold W. Fuson Jr. said Platinum emerged … as the bidder best equipped to maintain the Union-Tribune’s position as one of San Diego’s leading institutions.

“This is a vital business with a long tradition of public service and a pre-eminent position in one of America’s finest media markets,” Fuson said in a written statement. “At this important juncture, we believe that Platinum Equity is the right partner for the Union-Tribune, its employees and the San Diego community.”

The U-T described its new owner:

Platinum specializes in acquiring businesses facing complex operational challenges in declining or transitioning markets. Since its founding in 1995, the firm has completed more than 100 acquisitions in a range of industries.

Louis Samson, the Platinum Equity principal leading the Union-Tribune acquisition, called the newspaper “a good fit for Platinum” and its operations-focused approach.

“We have a long history of creating value by helping established companies navigate difficult market transitions,” Samson said in a written statement. “The Union-Tribune is more than a business. It’s an institution in San Diego.

“But it faces enormous challenge in a period of tremendous upheaval for the newspaper industry. We will bring a strong operational focus that helps ensure the Union-Tribune not only survives in this market, but thrives.”

We at the OB Rag blog welcome the new owners. We expect a call from then any day now to solicit from us directions on how to proceed with their new paper.

Eric Wolff of City Beat reports today:

The purchasers of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Platinum Equity and Black Press, opened negotiations to buy the paper at $15 million, sources tell CityBeat. While the final terms of the deal have not been announced, those same sources say the final cash price was “only a little more” than the original $15 million, but Copley Press will retain an equity stake in the company and also receive a share of revenues.

Ironically, and symbolically, the latest edition to San Diego’s online news sites was supposed to start today. The San Diego News Network was supposed to be up and running by today – March 18th – according to City Beat, but I could not find them. The online site is made up of former staff from signonsandiego.com – the U-T’s online web site.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar nunya March 18, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I don’t think I’m going to miss it much. I like news, not newz. Keep it up guys, you’re doing great!


avatar Wireless Mike March 18, 2009 at 2:12 pm

This is good news, because Copley’s U-T has become a tool for “questionable” elements in city government and the land developers they represent. Hopefully the new owners will force Bob Kittle to be more responsible in his analysis of civic issues. If he is allowed to continue to misrepresent the truth (as he did in his editorial attacks against Mike Aguirre), the newspaper will continue to lose credibility. If the new owners cannot rein in Bob Kittle and hold him to higher standards of journalism, the U-T will continue to shed readers like leaves from a tree in autumn.


avatar Frank Gormlie March 18, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Amen, Wireless


avatar Frank Gormlie March 18, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Nunya – howsabout writing a post for us?


avatar doug porter March 18, 2009 at 10:23 pm

here’s an email i got from sdnn.com this evening:

Thank you for your interest in San Diego News Network.

In the grand tradition of Bill Gates, we set the launch date and then found a bug (not an endangered species) — So the new launch date is Monday, March 23rd, noon. We are looking forward to beginning the conversation with San Diego.


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