Group led by ex-alderman set to acquire Chicago Sun-Times

An investment group led by a former Chicago alderman along with a coalition of labor unions is close to acquiring the Chicago Sun-Times, the group's leader said Wednesday.

A deal to acquire the newspaper is expected to be completed Thursday, former Alderman Edwin Eisendrath said.

Eisendrath has declined to disclose terms of the deal and also said he doesn't have permission to reveal all the members of his investment group. "A great group has come together and make sure that a genuine voice with honest and good reporting that connects with working men and women thrives," he said.

One of the investors is the Chicago Federation of Labor, an umbrella group of labor unions. Chicago Federation of Labor secretary-treasurer Bob Reiter said the Sun-Times will retain its independence in reporting on labor unions.

Eisendrath came forward with a bid to buy the Sun-Times after owner Wrapports LLC announced earlier this month it would enter into discussions with Tronc Inc. - which owns the rival Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and several other major newspapers - to acquire the paper.

Eisendrath has said his bid was an effort to make sure that the city has a newspaper that represents working people.

"We're going to organize around that to raise circulation," he said.

Chicago-based Tronc's announcement it intended to acquire Wrapports aroused the concern of the U.S. Justice Department's Antitrust Division, which asked Wrapports to extend the deadline to allow bids from other potential buyers.

"Tronc has always been committed to keeping the Sun-Times an independent media voice within the city of Chicago," Tronc President Tim Knight said in a statement.

Knight said the expectation is that the new owners will honor the Chicago Tribune's contractual agreement for printing and distribution services under the terms of a multiyear agreement.

The Chicago News Guild,a union representing writers and editors at the Sun-Times and Chicago Reader, released a statement welcoming the new ownership.

"The Guild and its members welcome this news and look forward to helping the new owners find innovative ways to sustain serious journalism," the statement said. "The Guild has not been involved in the sales negotiations, but some of us have known Eisendrath for years and are impressed with his commitment to journalistic competition. He and his partners bring a sense of mission to what is both a civic and a business endeavor.

We thank Eisendrath and his partners for doggedly pursuing this acquisition."

The Sun-Times has long been struggling financially. One past owner, British-Canadian media baron Conrad Black, was convicted of fraud in 2007 for allegedly siphoning millions of dollars from the company.

In 2009, Sun-Times Media Group declared bankruptcy, and a group of investors headed by James Tyree, chairman of Mesirow Financial Holdings, bought the company out of bankruptcy for about $26 million later that year. Then in 2011, Wrapports, which also owns The Reader, an alternative weekly newspaper, bought Sun-Times Media.

The Sun-Times newspaper was home to famed movie critic Roger Ebert, and columnist Mike Royko before he left for the Tribune.

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