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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Two unlikely billionaires may be close to derailing a massive newspaper deal that would've likely resulted in the loss of hundreds of local journalism jobs across the country.

Driving the news: Maryland hotel magnate Stewart Bainum and Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss have reportedly agreed to put up more than $600 million of their own money to help finance a roughly $680 million bid for Tribune Publishing, the parent to many of America's most iconic newspapers.

  • The billionaires' bid, according to the Wall Street Journal, can now be recommended for consideration by Tribune's board to its shareholders over a cheaper bid from private equity giant Alden Global Capital.
  • In February, Alden said it would buy out the remainder of Tribune Publishing, the parent company to the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News and other local papers, in a deal valuing Tribune at roughly $630 million.
  • On Sunday, the Journal reported that Bainum and Wyss were able to secure the financing for their bid after originally proposing to put up $200 million of their own dollars. Alden will have four days to come up with a higher bid, or else risk losing the deal, per the Journal.

Be smart: Alden Global Capital is a hedge fund known for cutting journalists at local papers to maximize profits. It has spent years positioning itself as Tribune's presumed buyer, by incrementally increasing its stake in the publicly traded company.

  • The Journal reported that public pleas from Chicago Tribune journalists to save the paper from Alden’s anticipated destruction is what inspired Wyss to make the bid.
  • Last weekend, the New York Times' reported that Wyss was joining Bainum Jr. in his bid for the Tribune papers, with plans to own Chicago Tribune.
  • Bainum Jr. originally said he would buy the Baltimore Sun, the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, and a few other smaller Maryland papers from Tribune for a reported $65 million to spin the news group into a nonprofit.
  • The Journal reports that Bainum Jr. is still planning to spin the Maryland-based papers into nonprofits and out of the control of private trusts.

Between the lines: Other wealthy individuals are apparently eyeing ways to help save their local papers from Alden’s potential takeover.

  • Last week, the Journal reported that a Florida investor named Mason Slaine, who is a minority investor in Tribune, was willing to put up $100 million in the bid for the Tribune being led by Bainum.
  • The WSJ noted Sunday that Slaine is not included in the new bid submitted to Tribune's Board from Bainum and Wyss.
  • Slaine was reportedly eyeing ownership of Tribune's two Florida papers, the Orlando Sentinel and the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale.
  • Last weekend, the Morning Call, a paper representing Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, that's owned by Tribune Publishing, reported that a Manhattan investor was the mystery bidder behind a $30 million–$40 million offer for the paper.

Go deeper: Billionaires scoop up news outlets as new form of philanthropy.

Go deeper

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause (R), chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality, or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

3 hours ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).