Capital Calls: Tribune trophy hunter setback

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NEW YORK, April 19 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Concise insights on global finance in the Covid-19 era.

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WHITE KNIGHT SETBACK. A group of rich guys who want to buy Tribune Publishing (TPCO.O) lost a key piece of financing when Swiss businessman Hansjoerg Wyss pulled out of the process this weekend. Choice Hotels International (CHH.N) Chairman Stewart Bainum now needs to rustle up more money to fund a proposed takeover of the U.S. newspaper chain for at least $18.50 a share, to beat rival hedge fund Alden Global Capital. It’s a blow to the white knights’ efforts to find trophy buyers for local newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and New York Daily News.

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Bainum deserves props for muscling into the process and getting a better look at Tribune’s finances. They may not have liked what they saw. Metro newspapers are particularly challenged because they don’t have national audiences to tap. The New York Times (NYT.N), which targets a global readership, generated $1.2 billion in subscription revenue last year with its flagship paper – more than three times what Tribune made. Even moguls with good intentions need chunky war chests. (By Jennifer Saba)

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