Rival newspapers in Chicago could soon come under one owner after Chicago Tribune’s parent company declared its intention to acquire Chicago Sun-Times’ parent company. The two newspapers have pointed out that Chicago will still be a two-newspaper city since the Sun-Times will have its own separate newsroom that will allow it to operate independently from the Tribune.

On Monday the Sun-Times published a letter on the front page which was addressed to employees, advertisers and readers. The letter explained that Wrapports Holdings, its parent company, had been approached by the parent company of Tribune, Tronc, with a view to acquiring its assets. Tronc’s letter of intent was nonbinding, however.

Intent to sell

On Tuesday Chicago Sun-Times carried an advert which announced that it had an intent to sell and was therefore inviting other prospective buyers. In the event that no other candidates will present themselves, the deal between Wrapports Holdings and Tronc could close by the beginning of next month. It is understood that there are outstanding issues in the deal that are yet to be finalized.

“There are minor points still to be worked out, but we are confident that we will be able to move forward on this transaction and reach a definitive agreement. This is generally viewed as good for all Tronc shareholders,” said the chief executive officer of Tronc, Justin Dearborn.

Antitrust violation

The antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice has revealed that the possible acquisition is under investigation and that the sale process will be closely monitored. In 2016 an attempt by Tronc which was then named Tribune Publishing to purchase Orange County Register failed after a temporary restraining order was issued by a judge in an antitrust case that had been filed by the Department of Justice.

Even before Tronc declared interest in acquiring Sun-Times, the two newspapers have enjoyed a business relationship for a couple of years since the Tribune has been handling the distribution and printing of the Sun-Times.

In the letter to advertisers, readers and employees, Sun-Times also disclosed that it had been pursuing similar arrangements with different media companies without any success and it was only an acquisition by the parent company of Tribune that made sense. According to the Sun-Times, the changing media landscape required that media companies have a national platform as this would allow them to enjoy economies of scale and put them in a better position to invest significantly across services and products.