Judge OKs Sale Of ‘Chicago Defender’

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(AP) A judge has approved a deal to sell the company that publishes the Chicago Defender, a black-owned daily newspaper.

Cook County Circuit Judge Bernetta Bush on Wednesday approved the sale of family owned Sengstacke Enterprises Inc., publisher of the Chicago Defender, to Real Times Inc., a company headed by Sengstacke relative Thomas Picou.

In exchange for control of the Defender and three weekly newspapers published in Memphis, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, Real Times will immediately pay $3 million in cash, an additional $3 million plus 12% interest over five years, and a final payment of at least $2.5 million.

Real Times’ chief financial officer, Kurt Cherry, said the company has committed to spending $1.5 million for technology improvements once the deal is complete.

In approving the sale, Bush reserved the right to determine how its proceeds will be divided among company stockholders, creditors, trust beneficiaries, attorneys, and charity organizations.

The Defender‘s future has been in question since 1997, when John Sengstacke, publisher and majority owner of Sengstacke Enterprises, died at age 84. In 1975, Sengstacke placed the newspaper chain in trust with instructions it be sold upon his death.

The paper has since fallen on hard times with many staff members working without raises for years.

Members of the Sengstacke family had opposed selling to a number of companies that made purchase offers, saying they didn’t believe they would allow them to help run the Defender — as they say the paper’s founder, Robert Abbott, would have wanted.

Abbott founded the Defender, the Sengstacke chain’s flagship newspaper, in 1905. By 1920, the paper had launched a campaign against Jim Crow segregation policies.

That push was credited with accelerating black migration from the South to northern cities such as Chicago and Detroit.

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