(Recasts first sentence with strategy of new owners, adds comments by new owners, other details)
By Timothy Mclaughlin
Chicago, July 13 (Reuters) - The Chicago Sun-Times’ new owners - a group that includes labor unions, a former alderman and a retired newscaster - are aiming to increase subscriptions and boost the newspaper’s digital footprint, they said on Thursday, a day after acquiring the tabloid.
Former Chicago Alderman Edwin Eisendrath and the group of investors beat out Tronc Inc, which owns the Chicago Tribune as well as other U.S. newspapers.
Terms of the deal between ST Acquisition Holdings and Sun-Times parent Wrapports LLC were not disclosed.
“It’s a great town as you know and it will continue to have two great newspapers,” Eisendrath said on Twitter.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division opened an investigation in May into the possible sale of the Sun-Times to Tronc and monitored the bidding closely.
The department said on Wednesday it closed its investigation with the paper’s sale to the investor group, ST Acquisition Holdings.
The group is comprised of corporate restructuring expert William Brandt, the Chicago Federation of Labor, local labor unions and about a half-dozen other individuals including retired Chicago news anchor Linda Yu.
Eisendrath will serve as the Sun-Times’ chief executive, he said at a news conference on Thursday. Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez will be chairman.
Criminal defense attorney Leonard Goodman, a member of the billionaire Crown family, is also part of the investor group.
The newspaper staff will relocate to the offices of Answers Media, a digital media company that was acquired by ST Acquisition Holdings in a separate deal on Wednesday.
The move will save the Sun-Times an unspecified amount that Eisendrath termed “significant.” The newspaper is also looking to bolster digital ad revenue and increase subscriptions, though detailed plans are not yet laid out.
“As we do this we will take this paper and make it a financial success as well as one that speaks to everyday people in Chicago as it always has,” Eisendrath said at the news conference.
The Sun-Times bills itself as Chicago’s oldest continuously published daily newspaper. It began in the 1840s as the Chicago Daily Journal.
There are no plans for layoffs, Eisendrath said. Jim Kirk, the Sun-Times’ publisher and editor-in-chief, will remain in his positions. Kirk said at the news conference he was confident “our new owners share our commitment to the freedom of press, the integrity of journalism.”
Wrapports has an annual $25 million contract with Tronc to print and distribute the Sun-Times. The contract is a major source of revenue for Tronc and one of the reasons it wanted to purchase the newspaper, the Sun-Times reported on Wednesday.
Tronc said in a statement it expects the new Sun-Times owners to honor the printing and distribution deal. Eisendrath said the group will do that but would but declined to comment further. (Additional reporting by Brendan O‘Brien in Milwaukee and Jessica Toonkel in New York; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Matthew Lewis)