Katz, Lenfest Winners of Inquirer, Daily News, Philly.com Auction

Group to pay $88 million for the company.

Philanthropist H.G. "Gerry" Lenfest, left, and businessman Lewis Katz arrive for a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Katz and Lenfest are taking over Philadelphia's two largest newspapers with an $88 million auction bid. AP Photo | Matt Rourke

Philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest, left, and businessman Lewis Katz arrive for a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Katz and Lenfest are taking over Philadelphia’s two largest newspapers with an $88 million auction bid. AP Photo | Matt Rourke

Joel Mathis is on the scene of the auction of the Inquirer and Daily News, where it’s just been announced that the group led by Lewis Katz and H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest has emerged victorious with a winning bid of $88 million. We’ll be updating this post throughout the day.




Below, the full statement issued by the ownership group led of George E. Norcross, William P. Hankowsky and Joseph E. Buckelew:

PHILADELPHIA: The majority owners of Interstate General Media, George E. Norcross, William P. Hankowsky and Joseph E. Buckelew, issued the following statement after declining to submit a final bid in today’s court ordered auction and agreeing to sell their majority share of the parent company of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Daily News and philly.com, to the minority owners, Lewis Katz and Gerry Lenfest. The company was valued at $88 million in the auction. The group purchased it in 2012 for $55 million.

“Although we declined to submit a higher bid and will not purchase the shares of Interstate General Media owned by Messers. Katz and Lenfest, we are happy for the company’s employees, readers and advertisers that this issue is now resolved. It is time to return the company’s focus to journalism, and away from conflict among its owners.

We have greatly valued our time as owners of the company and are proud of the remarkable turnaround begun under our ownership. In the decade before we took over, the company had gone from generating over $500 million of revenue with 3,000 employees to generating just over $200 million and with just 2,000 full-time and temp employees. It went from making $145 million in profit to losing as much as $50,000 a day.

In the first 18 months of our group’s ownership, IGM made millions of dollars of investments in its long-term future, including provisions for improvements at the production plant, the 801 Market Street headquarters and IT across the company. The company also dramatically streamlined operations, including a focus on improvements to home delivery and reinvigorated advertising initiatives.

We believe these are just some of the reasons the company was on the path to profitability before this litigation derailed the progress it was making.

We always understood that no matter who won the auction, there was a great deal of work to be done. Now, with this chapter ended, we hope the company can return its focus to accomplishing that needed work.

We wish Messrs. Katz and Lenfest the best of luck moving forward.

To the employees, advertisers and readers, we thank you. It was an honor working with you.”

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