A Maryland hotel magnate and a Swiss billionaire made an offer for Tribune Publishing Co. that the newspaper chain is expected to favor over a takeover deal it has already reached with hedge fund Alden Global Capital LLC. A special committee of Tribune’s TPCO board of directors, + 0.22% has determined that an offering of approximately $ 680 million and $ 18.50 per share presented late last week by Choice Hotels International Inc. president Stewart Bainum and Hansjörg Wyss is reasonably likely to lead to a proposal that is higher than Alden’s $ 635 million settlement, people familiar with the matter said. That’s legal talk indicating that Alden will likely need to increase his offer or risk losing the deal.
The decision was made after the two men indicated they plan to personally contribute more than $ 600 million combined, compared to a previous total of $ 200 million, the people said. Now that the group has submitted a fully funded offer, it will have access to private financial data to conduct due diligence and negotiate other terms, a big step toward completing a deal that could replace Alden’s, they said. There is no guarantee that the group will succeed in doing so, and it is still possible that it will change its offer or withdraw after reviewing the company’s finances. If Alden loses the deal, it would mark a surprising 11-hour turnaround for the New York hedge fund and a huge win for critics who say his aggressive cost-cutting model has hurt the local news industry. Alden had spent nearly a year and a half positioning himself to take over the Tribune, editor of nine large-market newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, and the Baltimore Sun. An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com. Also popular on WSJ.com: Best coupon in your wallet? Your vaccination record. Corsets are back, thanks to ‘Bridgerton’ and the party fever.