Not long after his defenestration as CEO of Tribune Publishing, veteran media executive Jack Griffin has surfaced again at DeSilva+Phillips, which specializes in media mergers and acquisitions.
Griffin will serve as a special advisor to the firm, leveraging his extensive experience in buying and selling media properties.
Over his long career, Griffin served as CEO of women’s interest publisher Meredith, then for a short time as publisher of Time Inc., before leading Tribune Publishing in its spinoff from the rest of the old Tribune Co.
At Tribune Publishing, Griffin led the acquisition of the San Diego Union-Tribune and then helped bring on Michael Ferro, previously the majority owner of Chicago Tribune rival Chicago Sun-Times, as a new investor.
Ferro bought a 16.6% stake in Tribune Publishing for $44.4 million in February, making him the largest individual shareholder in the company.
Tribune evidently hoped to tap Ferro’s war chest to finance Tribune’s planned acquisition of the Orange County Register. However, that deal was blocked by the U.S. Department of Justice on anti-trust grounds, in light of the San Diego Union-Tribune acquisition not long before.
Ferro then engineered Griffin’s ouster from the company, replacing him with current CEO Justin Dearborn. In an additional ironic twist, given the role of acquisitions in bringing him to Tribune, Ferro now finds himself under pressure from Tribune shareholders who favor Gannett’s proposal to buy the company.
Media watchers are speculating that Griffin may have joined DeSilva+Phillips with an eye to managing a media company or companies involved in one of the firm’s M&A deals.
Whatever his intended role, Griffin is a high-profile get for DeSilva+Phillips. Managing partner Reed Phillips boasted of his pedigree: “Jack has run the largest U.S. magazine publisher, second-largest U.S. newspaper publisher and the largest circulation magazine in the U.S. and did all of this while innovating and extending these businesses into digital and marketing services."