Sun-Times Union and Thane Ritchie Claim Foul on Bid to Buy Paper

Oct 06, 2009, 20:24 ET from Thane Ritchie

CHICAGO, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Private equity manager Thane Ritchie announced that he has been wrongly blocked from meeting with The Chicago Newspaper Guild and developing a coalition offer to buy the Sun-Times Media Group.

Despite requests to set up such a meeting, Ritchie was told that it was against Federal labor laws for a potential bidder to have a conversation with the Guild, which represents many of those employed at Chicago's #2 daily and associated sister publications, according to Steve Denari of Third Millennium Group strategic consultants, Ritchie's point man looking at the investment.

When Ritchie heard of this blockage, he became personally involved and retained labor experts to review it. "This is a travesty -- why shouldn't forward looking private equity sources be able to form a coalition offer with a union, which represents the largest set of stakeholders here? The only bidder reportedly has made it clear that not only do they refuse to negotiate with the Guild, but that they would actually like to withdraw their bid unless the Guild gives in on everything."

A Chicago Newspaper Guild representative stated that until today, the union had no idea of Ritchie's interest, much less its desire to work with the Guild in devising a Private Equity/Union coalition bid.

With no buyers beyond the one offer on the table yesterday in Delaware Bankruptcy Court, the bidding period officially ended. But Ritchie is urging the Guild to ask the Bankruptcy Court to re-open the bidding process for 30 more days, and order that the Guild cannot be blocked from working with Ritchie on an alternative offer to better assure the continuation of the Sun-Times publications in the Chicagoland area.

Labor counsel for Ritchie, Collins Whitfield, noted that after a review of the situation, it was a ridiculous notion that labor laws, designed to protect unions and their members, would be used in such a warped fashion to block new and creative means to save some 1,500 jobs at stake at the various Sun-Times operations in the region.

Ritchie is currently bidding on assets of other now defunct newspaper properties nationwide, and has been exploring the decimated newspaper publication business for several months. He is seeking to find creative solutions and coalitions to halt the evaporation of these legacy institutions. The Sun-Times is the first still operating news organization reviewed by the group for investment.

"The American newspaper is not just another recession driven victim industry like autos or housing," concluded Thane Ritchie, "its ink is the lifeblood of our political system and democracy, as our Founding Fathers emphasized by enshrining only this commercial endeavor by name in our Constitution."

About Thane Ritchie:

Thane Ritchie is the founder and chief executive officer of Ritchie Capital Management, L.L.C., a diversified alternative asset management firm established in 1997 with interests in hedge funds, private equity, venture capital, insurance, energy and real estate and with offices in Lisle, IL, New York, NY and Menlo Park, CA.

SOURCE Thane Ritchie