By: Mark Fitzgerald
William Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group Inc. paid $200 million for The Salt Lake Tribune almost two years ago. Last week, its appraiser, Santa Fe, N.M.-based Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, said the paper is worth $380 million. Chicago-based Willamette Management Associates — chosen by the McCarthey family as its appraiser for the disputed 1997 purchase option that was triggered in August — said the paper is worth just $218 million.
“We got a bargain [in 2000] because of all the legal entanglements,” Singleton said Thursday, adding he thought even the $380-million appraisal “was a little on the low side.”
Because the two appraisers are more than 10% apart, they will pick a third appraiser by Nov. 15, and the two closest appraisals will be averaged to determine a final value.
Looming over the process is a veto The Deseret News, the Tribune‘s joint-operating-agreement partner, has said it will exercise over any McCarthey bid.
Although the McCarthey family has been unsuccessful so far in its fight to overturn that veto, it plans to argue the issue, among others, before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Nov. 20. “We are very optimistic about our chances before the 10th Circuit,” Randy Frisch, chief operating officer of the McCartheys’ Salt Lake Tribune Publishing Co., told E&P via e-mail Thursday. “We do not think it makes sense to allow The Deseret News to decide who owns its competitor.”