The Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com were sold today in a private auction between the current owners. Lewis Katz and Gerry Lenfest outbid George Norcross, William P. Hankowsky and Joseph E. Buckelew (if those aren’t rich guy names, I don’t know what is) to maintain ownership of the papers and Philly.com, which as of at least this morning, was managed by Norcross’ 26-year-old daughter, Lexie. I’m guessing she’s going to be looking for a new job soon.
Inquirer co-owners Lewis Katz and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest won control of the newspaper and its parent company Tuesday after a bidding war with other owners in a private auction at a Philadelphia law firm.
Katz and Lenfest bid $88 million, a figure that includes the assigned value of all the shares of the company plus existing debt recently pegged at about $15.3 million.
In doing so, they outbid George E. Norcross III, Joseph Buckelew and William Hankowsky, the other owners with whom they formed Interstate General Media Holdings, L.L.C., in 2012.
Besides the Inquirer, the company owns the Daily News, philly.com., the newspapers’ separate websites and a printing plant in Conshohocken.
“We feel very fortunate we were able to prevail in the auction,” Lenfest said. “We feel we want to return The Inquirer to the great newspaper it has been for . . . many years.”
In their first move, the new owners announced at an employee meeting that Lenfest would serve as interim publisher until a permanent one is found.
Lenfest said there are no plans to close the Daily News, but added, “we don’t know the future.”
This all comes after a well-(and hilariously-)documented struggle for control of the company between the two parties.
Here’s a list of the company’s sale prices over the last eight years:
Sold in 2006 for $515 million.
Sold in 2010 for $139 million.
Sold in 2012 for $55 million.
Sold (valued at) today for $88 million.
That doesn’t seem like a stable business. But what do I know?