By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – An announcement is expected, today, in the sale of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. A controversial group of local businessmen is likely to be the new owners.
A source close to the sale says the private equity firms that own the papers can’t wait to get rid of them. The papers are about to get their fifth owner in six years and the purchase price has plummeted in that time. They sold for $515-million in June 2006, just before the bottom fell out of print advertising.
A source familiar with the sale says the new owners will get them for about $60-million.
As the value of the papers has shrunk, so has the content and staff. Friday was the last day for 40 journalists bought-out or laid-off in the latest contraction and the Daily News reports a letter of intent from the new owners says more will be coming.
Equally as troubling to some staff are the new owners, themselves. The group includes the publicity-averse South Jersey political boss George Norcross, who the paper has covered aggressively for questionable deals involving both money and influence.
The group brought in philanthropist Gerry Lenfest to lead its bid, replacing former Governor Ed Rendell, making the group appear less political.