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Chicago Tribune Owner in Talks to Buy Rival Sun-Times, Sparking Antitrust Investigation

Tronc, which owns Tribune and L.A. Times, announces ”letter of intent“ to buy Chicago’s second biggest newspaper

Tronc, the owner of the Chicago Tribune and L.A. Times, announced Monday that it is in talks to acquire its Windy City rival, the Chicago Sun-Times.

Tronc and Wrapports LLC, the investment group that owns the Sun-Times, announced that they had signed a “letter of intent” to transfer ownership of the daily paper and the weekly Chicago Reader to Tronc “if no viable alternative buyer comes forward,” the Sun-Times reported.

The move quickly prompted an investigation by the Justice Department’s antitrust division, which is responsible for overseeing mergers involving newspapers.

“Tronc may close on the sale of the Chicago Sun-Times as early as 15 days from today if no viable alternative buyer comes forward,” according to a full-page ad scheduled to run in the Sun-Times on Tuesday but released on Monday. “Within the fifteen calendar day period, prosepective buyers must begin due diligence, and indicate an expression of interest, including a price range for the Chicago Sun-Times, and demonstrate the financial ability to operate the paper.”

Under terms of the deal, the Sun-Times reported, Tronc would own and operate the Sun-Times as an independent business.

Wrapports, which has owned the Sun-Times since 2012, has been distributed by the Chicago Tribune Media Group since 2007.