Mort Zuckerman exploring sale of Daily News
Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman is exploring a sale of the tabloid and has retained the firm Lazard to assist in the process.
In a Thursday email to staff, Zuckerman said he hadn't been considering an imminent sale of the paper, which he acquired in 1993, but that his thinking changed after receiving an approach several weeks ago.
"I have not come to this decision easily," Zuckerman wrote. "But I believe the immense hard work in turning the business around in an extremely challenging period for the industry, has put the Daily News in as strong a position than it has ever been, particularly online."
The News, as with many print publications, has suffered steep print circulation and advertising declines in recent years. As a result, there have been repeated downsizings and layoffs. Just a few weeks ago, the News announced that it would be shuttering its bureaus in the outer boroughs, a move that will save them money on real estate.
At the same time, there has been substantial web traffic growth over the past few years as the News ramped up its coverage of viral, non-local news that would appeal to national advertisers. And there have been conversations internally about a plan to eventually go digital only.
In terms of potential buyers, heads will likely turn toward News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, who owns rival tabloid the New York Post.
For years there has been chatter about a deal between the two. As Capital reported in October, there were discussions as recently at the past year or so between News Corp. and the News about combining their operations in some way, but the talks broke down.
Reps for Murdoch declined to comment and a spokesperson for the News did not immediately return calls.
A person who answered News editor in chief Colin Myler's phone when Capital called seeking comment on the potential sale said Myler was busy and could not speak at the moment.
We'll update if we learn more.
Zuckerman's full email is below.
I want to share with you a new development regarding the company.
A few weeks ago, we were approached about our potential interest in selling the Daily News. Although there were no immediate plans to consider a sale, we thought it would be prudent to explore the possibility and talk to potential buyers and/or investors. To help us with the process, I have retained Lazard, a leading financial advisory firm.
I have not come to this decision easily. But I believe the immense hard work in turning the business around in an extremely challenging period for the industry, has put the Daily News in as strong a position than it has ever been, particularly online.
I appreciate that this news is difficult for you to digest. But I want to reassure you that my aim throughout this process will be to do the right thing for the business to ensure the Daily News and its brilliant staff have the best opportunity to achieve all our future ambitions.