The proposed nonprofit buyer of The Baltimore Sun and its affiliated newspapers would pay $65 million for the company, according to a Tribune Publishing filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Sunlight for All Institute, backed by Maryland businessman and philanthropist Stewart Bainum Jr., also would assume pension obligations associated with The Baltimore Sun and its affiliates.
Bainum reached the agreement to purchase Baltimore Sun Media from Tribune Publishing with Alden Capital Group, which has agreed to acquire the rest of Tribune in a $630 million deal announced late Tuesday. Tribune Publishing also owns The Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News and other major newspapers.
Under the terms of Bainum’s agreement with Alden, a New York-based hedge fund, the deal for The Sun would close at the same time Alden’s deal closes for Tribune Publishing, which is expected in the second quarter, or between April and June.
Alden Capital’s purchase of Tribune Publishing is subject to shareholder approval, particularly that of Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who acquired the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune from Tribune Publishing for $500 million in 2018 and still holds a 24% stake in the company. Alden already controls 31.5% of the company.
The deal also must be approved by federal regulators.
Bainum’s deal with Alden Capital, signed by its president Heath Freeman, is nonbinding, which means the parties could back out of it without penalty.
The purchase includes Capital Gazette Communications, which publishes The Capital, Maryland Gazette and Carroll County Times, and other Sun-affiliated newspapers such as the Towson Times and The Aegis of Harford County, as well as their associated websites.
Bainum, the chairman of Rockville-based Choice Hotels International, set up the Sunlight for All Institute as a Delaware-registered nonprofit in late January. A resident of Takoma Park, Bainum helped his father run and grow the ManorCare nursing home business and helped build what is now Choice Hotels. He also is a former Democratic state legislator and an active donor to Democratic political causes, having given more than $3 million to President Joe Biden’s effort to defeat Donald Trump.