Philly Papers’ Deal Deadline Extended as Negotiations Continue

By: E&P Staff

The clock may still be ticking, but at least now there’s more time left on the board.

Philadelphia Media Network Inc., which purchased The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and at a bankruptcy auction in April for $139 million, had planned to finalize its purchase of the media outlets Tuesday, when it was scheduled to emerge from bankruptcy. But ongoing negotiations with five of the papers’ unions — representing drivers, pressmen, machinists, operating engineers and roadmen — have impaired the deal’s closing.

Late Tuesday, the formal sale date was extended by two weeks to allow the prospective new owners more time to come to terms with the unions. If new contracts cannot be reached with all the unions — nine of which have already approved new terms —the purchase agreement allows the new ownership to walk away from the deal.

Chief Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Raslavich extended the sale date until noon on Sept. 14 at the request of Philadelphia Media Network Inc. (the name of the new company, should the deal be finalized) and supported by Philadelphia Newspapers LLC, the most recent owners.

Greg Osberg, Philadelphia Media’s chief executive officer, said after the hearing that his people were still in talks with the five unions on new terms, and was confident that agreements could be reached.

When asked by E&P in June about the challenge of negotiating with the papers’ 14 unions, Osberg said “there is an understanding of the economic and industry challenges that we all are facing. I am hopeful that we’ll be able to arrive at agreements that will allow us to move forward with the financial stability necessary to begin building the most successful local media company in the country.”

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