Alden Global saddles 'Orlando Sentinel' parent company with $278 million in debt following sale

click to enlarge Alden Global saddles 'Orlando Sentinel' parent company with $278 million in debt following sale
Photo courtesy Orlando Sentinel/Facebook

Alden Global Capital's purchase of the parent company of the Orlando Sentinel is already looking ominous for our local paper of record. It appears Alden has made their new newspaper group responsible for a portion of the $633 million cost of the sale.

Tribune Publishing is now on the hook for $278 million in debt, according to a recent filing. That obligation will have to be paid with the proceeds from the newspapers under its banner. At least part of the loan to make the purchase came from Alden's own pre-existing newspaper group: a $60 million loan made at an astonishing 13% interest. Prior to the sale, the Associated Press reports that the (admittedly downsized) Tribune had no debt and $25o million in cash on hand.

Alden has a history of heavy-handed cost-cutting measures, slashing the newsrooms already under its banner to the bone to increase returns for its stockholders. Reporters and editors at The Denver Post have railed against the ownership of Alden for years as their newsroom was decimated. The problem got so dire that even Denver City Council members called out the hedge fund over its practices (and the harm it did to the city).

“It would not be unreasonable to predict that Alden will accelerate its cost cutting in order to meet these new obligations,” Ann Marie Lipinski, former editor at the Chicago Tribune, told the AP . "It’s extremely disappointing that the board and major shareholders did not prevent such a painful outcome for employees and the communities in which they work.”

The Sentinel's union protested ahead of the sale to no avail. They have committed to fighting the cuts that are likely to come.

"Tribune Publishing shareholders voted to put profit and greed over local news in our country. While we are saddened by the turn of events, we know that our work over the past year — to build allies in the community and to raise awareness about Alden — is not in vain," they shared in a statement. "Those allies will support us as we fight against Alden to protect local news and the cuts that they will inevitably try to make. We stand ready, willing and able to fight."

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