The tortuous saga of The Philadelphia Inquirer
continued last week with a ruling by Delaware Court of Chancery vice chancellor Donald F. Parsons Jr. that the newspaper’s parent
company, Interstate General Media, must be dissolved and its properties, including the Inquirer
and its sister paper the Philadelphia Daily News
, sold in a private auction between
The move is intended to resolve a long-running dispute between estranged former partners over who should control the newspapers.
According to a report in
The Philadelphia Inquirer
, the ruling is viewed as a victory for George E. Norcross III, one of the co-owners, who has previously advocated a private auction and promised to bid at least $77
million of the defunct company -- the minimum bid required by Parsons in his ruling on Friday. The Philadelphia Inquirer
has been at the center of a legal drama for some
years now, including multiple bankruptcy declarations and long-running court battles for control of the newspaper and its associated properties.
The saga began in 2006, when a group
of local Philadelphia investors led by ad exec Brian Tierney bought The Inquirer
and Daily News
from McClatchy for $500 million. In 2009 the company created by Tierney and his fellow
investors, the Philadelphia Media Network, declared bankruptcy and was eventually acquired by hedge funds including Angelo Gordon and Alden Global Capital for $139 million in September 2010.
In April 2012, the beleaguered newspapers were sold yet again -- this time for just $55 million -- to IGM, a company created by Norcross and partner Lewis Katz.
recent contretemps dates back to October 2013 when The Philadelphia Inquirer
’s publisher, Robert J. Hall, fired editor Bill K. Marimow, apparently at the behest of Norcross, triggering
a falling out between Norcross and co-owner Katz. Subsequently Katz claimed that Norcross was trying to seize control of the newsroom, while Norcross leveled the same accusation at Katz.
A Philadelphia judge ordered Marimow restored to his position in November, but the company has been effectively paralyzed by the stalemate between the two co-owners, setting the stage
for yet another legal battle and culminating in today’s court decision.