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Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund known for cutting journalists at local papers to maximize profits, sent a letter to Tribune Publishing Company on Thursday asking to buy out the newspaper publisher in its entirety. The group currently owns 32% of the company.

Why it matters: Given Alden's history, a takeover is expected to result in a restructuring of the company that could result in more local news jobs being cut.

Details: In a filing with the SEC, Alden said it's willing to purchase Tribune at a price per share equal to $14.25. That offer values Tribune at about $520.6 million, per the New York Times.

  • In recent months, Alden has increased its footprint at the company. Over the summer, the Wall Street Journal reported that the hedge fund brokered a deal with Tribune to award Alden co-founder Randall Smith a third seat on Tribune's seven-person board.
  • In return, Alden agreed to extend a deal that prevented the hedge fund from increasing its stake in the company, unless there was interest from an outside bidder, until 2021.
  • Journalists at newsrooms owned by Tribune have been bracing for this moment. Buyouts were offered to Chicago Tribune and Orlando Sentinel journalists in early January of this year, following Alden's increased stake in Tribune in 2019.

Tribune has been trying to offload assets to weather the financial headwinds from the pandemic and the broader collapse of the local news industry.

  • According to a regulatory filing by Tribune this summer, the company has terminated eight leases since March and hasn’t made rent payments at many of its other properties since then.
  • Earlier this year, it announced that it had permanently closed its headquarters in Manhattan for the storied New York Daily News tabloid.
  • Tribune also closed the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, which was vaulted into the national spotlight in 2018 when five people were killed in a mass shooting at its offices.

The big picture: As Axios has previously reported, cuts to big-city papers are happening at the same time that hedge funds and private equity firms have been taking greater ownership in newspapers, absorbing entities in the hopes of finding synergies and making some cash.

  • The pandemic has made the situation more dire, causing local newsrooms to take drastic measures to stay afloat, including by vacating historic newsrooms or selling printing presses.
  • While private equity firms don't have a particularly great track record in the legacy media space, many have been trying to take over local chains to try to quickly juice profits out of the entities before possibly offloading them.
  • In July, Chatham Asset Management, a New Jersey-based hedge fund, won the once family-owned newspaper chain McClatchy in a bankruptcy auction.

Between the lines: For Alden, this is the latest in a long string of local news investments not only in newspapers, but also in local television and radio stations.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

CDC looks at tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.