A wealthy real estate developer said Tuesday he and four partners plan to make an offer to buy the city's two largest newspapers, whose downtown offices he already owns.
Bart Blatstein said he plans to pursue an acquisition of some or all of the assets of Philadelphia Media Network, which operates The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and their shared website, philly.com. The partnership, calling itself Philly Hometown Media LLC, plans to make a cash offer for the newspapers, Blatstein said.
"We believe that these papers can be turned around," he said in an interview. "It's very important to the city and to us."
A Philadelphia Media Network spokesman, Mark Block, said the company is not in discussions with Blatstein.
Local investors paid $515 million for the newspapers in 2006 but filed for bankruptcy in early 2009. Creditors have since sold the iconic 18-story downtown headquarters and plan to move staff to much smaller space in a long-vacant department store this year.
Last week, news reports surfaced that two hedge funds with major stakes in the company want to sell. The firms had led the creditors' $139 million takeover of the company at a September 2010 bankruptcy auction. Former Gov. Ed Rendell also said last week that he and Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider were leading a separate effort to buy the newspapers.
Blatstein said his group is still trying to work out how the process will work. He declined to estimate a range of what the cash offer might be or to give a time frame on when the offer would be made.
Blatstein, a powerful developer in the city, emphasized the local roots he and his partners have.
"We understand the important role that the papers play in our city and region" he said.
Last year, Philadelphia Media Network announced that it was selling the newspapers' 18-story building to Blatstein, of Tower Investments Inc., for an undisclosed price. The building was built in 1925 and houses both newspapers and their website.
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