McCormick Media extends deadline to pay $209M for Tronc shares

The deadline for McCormick Media to pay about $209 million to buy a 25.7 percent piece of Tronc held by former chairman Michael Ferro’s Merrick Ventures expired on May 15 — but sources say they agreed to an extension, which they believe to be for another 10 days.

Tronc’s stock has tumbled the last four trading days, closing Tuesday at $16.51 a share, down 1.6 percent.

Separately, sources say biotechnology billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong has been talking to JPMorgan and the Australian bank Macquarie Capital to try to raise money to take over the entire Tronc.

In March, Soon-Shiong agreed to buy the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune for $500 million.

At yesterday’s close, the market capitalization for all of Tronc was only $582.6 million. “For another $82 million, he could buy the whole company, not just the California papers,” noted one media source.

The deal was announced in February. In March, Tronc said a closing was “imminent.” Nevertheless, the deal still has not been made final.

But that task will be complicated if Ferro is not out of the way, since he has feuded with Soon-Shiong — his onetime ally — and still has great antipathy toward him. “He [Ferro] hates him [Soon-Shiong],” said one insider.

Neither Sargent McCormick-Collier, a distant cousin of the family that once owned the Chicago Tribune, nor representatives for Ferro returned calls by press time.

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