“The New York Daily News is a venerable New York City institution,” Eric Gertler, the co-publisher of The News, said in a statement. “We believe that under Tronc’s leadership, The New York Daily News will maintain its tradition of excellence in journalism and continue to be a critical voice for millions of print and online readers.”
Mr. Zuckerman, who bought The News in 1993 for $36 million in cash, said the paper had “helped shape the dynamics of the city.”
At Tronc, formerly Tribune Publishing, the deal is something of a triumph for its chairman, Michael W. Ferro Jr., who took control of the company in early 2016. Owning The News gives Tronc newspapers in the country’s three biggest media markets — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — along with markets including Baltimore and Hartford, which the company hopes will endear it to national advertisers. In some ways, the deal is a homecoming. The News was long owned by The Tribune Company, which spun off Tribune Publishing in 2014.
Under the terms of the deal, Tronc assumes control of The News’s operations, its printing plant in Jersey City and its pension liability. No cash will change hands. Tronc will also receive a 49.9 percent interest in the 25-acre property overlooking Manhattan where the printing plant is. It was not immediately clear what The News’s pension liabilities were; however, previous reports indicated that they were worth more than $30 million.
Tronc also expects to save money by using the plant in Jersey City to print The Hartford Courant and The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., according to people briefed on the negotiations. Such an arrangement could be worth millions of dollars annually.
“As part of the Tronc portfolio, The New York Daily News will provide us with another strategic platform for growing our digital business, expanding our reach and broadening our services for advertisers and marketers,” Justin C. Dearborn, the chief executive of Tronc, said in a statement.
Mr. Zuckerman put The News up for sale in 2015 and drew interest from several wealthy businessmen, including the supermarket magnate John A. Catsimatidis. But later that year, Mr. Zuckerman took the paper off the market, raising fresh questions about its future.
Under Mr. Ferro, Tronc has pursued an aggressive strategy of deal-making. Last year, Gannett sought to buy Tronc, but Mr. Ferro resisted; Gannett raised its offer several times but ultimately walked away, though investors continue to speculate about a potential deal. Mr. Ferro also tried to buy US Weekly, but the deal fell through, and he most recently was engaged in conversations to have Tronc buy The Chicago Sun-Times, a newspaper Mr. Ferro once owned personally through his investment company.
Just last month, Tronc announced plans to overhaul The Los Angeles Times, its flagship. The company hired Ross Levinsohn, a longtime media executive who held a senior position at Fox’s digital group, as its chief executive and publisher while ousting top editors, pointing to a lack of digital innovation, though newsroom employees say the shake-up also capped months of concern over the paper’s leadership.