Drew Katz to Sell Interest in Inquirer, Daily News

Denies falling out with Gerry Lenfest; says sale motivated by “turmoil” following father’s death.

Drew Katz, left, son of Lewis Katz, right, walk with philanthropist H.G. "Gerry" Lenfest to a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Lenfest and businessman Lewis Katz are taking over Philadelphia's two largest newspapers with an $88 million auction bid. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Drew Katz, left, son of Lewis Katz, right, walks with philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest to a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Drew Katz is selling his interest in Interstate General Media, the company that his late father Lewis Katz won at auction just two weeks ago after a furious months-long fight over the ownership of Philadelphia’s major newspapers. The announcement Tuesday night appears to leave Gerry Lenfest, Lewis Katz’s partner in the bidding, the sole owner of those newspapers.

“Because of the turmoil of the last 10 days, I have made a decision that it would be in the best interests of the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com for me to sell my interest in the company,” Drew Katz said in an email Tuesday night. “I believe strongly that the organization would be in excellent hands under the ownership of Gerry Lenfest now and in the years to come.”

The announcement came hours after a report at BigTrial.net that Drew Katz had fallen out with Lenfest in the days since his father’s death, allegedly feeling he’d been elbowed out of decisions concerning the future of the papers by the older man — and resenting, reportedly, that Lenfest hadn’t offered any personal condolences about Lewis Katz’s death in a plane crash a week after the bidding concluded.

Drew Katz denied he’d had any falling-out with Lenfest.

“I would also like to emphasize that despite public reports to the contrary, Mr. Lenfest sent me a heartfelt, beautiful note when my father passed away. My father loved Gerry Lenfest and Gerry loved my dad,” Drew Katz wrote.

Particulars of the deal have not been finalized. BigTrial.net reported that Lenfest was buying Drew Katz out for $16 million.

“Although no deal has been consummated, I wanted to set forth my intentions to clarify public reports issued earlier today,” Drew Katz wrote. “If there is a deal reached, I will have more to say.”

Gerry Lenfest made no immediate public comment.

Drew Katz’s announcement was the latest twist in the newspapers’ recent ownership saga. It came a week after he buried his father, which in turn came a week after his father and Lenfest unexpectedly won control of the papers. (See Philly Mag’s archives on the recent ownership squabbles at the paper.) Lewis Katz and Lenfest had put up the winning bid of $88 million.

The events left Bill Ross, director of the Newspaper Guild that represents journalists at the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com, concerned for the future of the news organizations.

“I’m very concerned, considering that we haven’t been able to talk or even see Mr. Lenfest since the auction,” Ross said Tuesday night. (He and Lenfest exchanged angry public letters at the height of the ownership squabble.) “I was somewhat optimistic, hoping Drew would take an important role here and get involved, since he is in the advertising business.” Drew Katz heads Interstate Outdoor, a billboard business.

The closing of the original sale was scheduled for Wednesday; no telling if recent developments — the death of Lewis Katz, the withdrawal of Drew Katz — will affect that timetable.

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  • Sounds like a falling out of fools. A union guy is angry. The newspaper will be run by one rich old guy. The young rich guy will continue to litter the landscape with advertisements.

    Ho hum.

    • buzzbye

      Just a left wing rag of the Obama administration is all this once great newspaper has become

  • Casey Drucquer

    Gerry Lenfest and family are honorable people. I used to work with Diane and know Chase. They are good people. I do feel they have the best interest of the Katz Family. Let Drew grieve knowing the paper is in good hands.

  • buzzbye

    Its turned into a liberal left wing shiot hole. May it rot in the manure pile it has turned into

  • buzzbye

    It has become a left leaning liberal rag of the Obama administration. Let this paper along with any and all that support this loser wither up and die into the pit of manure they have become.

    • Didn’t take long for a cheap shot, did it? PRESIDENT Obama and his administration are, apparently, at the core of all of Your problems.

      • buzzbye

        Cheap shot? Not at all. Just the truth. Why does this seem to hurt liberals feelings? lol. To bad so sad loser

  • richard

    The Inquirer has an extraordinary history of journalistic excellence but like most media today is being battered by paradigm change of forces beyond its control. Prior Knight Ridder acquiring the papers the Inquirer was owned by the Annenberg family and ultimately run by Walter Annenberg, one of America’s wealthiest men.

    Walter was the former editor and publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer, former chairman of Triangle Publications and founder and publisher of TV Guide and Seventeen magazines. He was the founder of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Rich guys can make a powerful contribution to journalism because unlike the media acquired and owned by faceless venture capitalists that typically strip the life out of media in the name of profit at any cost, it’s the “rich guys” that bring the
    capacity to support an independent journalism that makes a genuine contribution
    to society.

    Interesting to note how some people who don’t agree with what’s reported on TV or in print immediately label the information as either ‘left-wing liberal’ or ‘radical right-winged.’ Seems there is little room allowed for balanced and straight reporting of facts.

    It’s a sad day when people only see media through the lens of special interests and those with exclusively liberal and conservative agenda’s.

    The impact of venture capitalists ownership on quality media can be measured in part by the growing number of unemployed professional writers, production people, ad sales people, circulation managers and printing professionals, and the growth of biased information.

    So Drew Katz has decided to sell his interest in the Inquirer. Yes, he’s in the “media business.” But billboard businesses, like Interstate Outdoor, are distinct and different from newspapers, there is no editorial staff, its sole basis is featuring sales
    messages that stream by us at 50 miles per hour.

    Gerry Lenfest has a history, and an extraordinary reputation for fairness and concern for the well being of the community. Unlike highly opinionated do nothing complainers; Mr. Lenfest puts his hard earned money to work benefiting our community.

    I for one am delighted that Mr. Lenfest has stepped to the plate and is able to provide the resources (time and money) that bring the potential for allowing the Inquirer to regain its footing in a dynamic and rapidly changing media business.

    Or, you could get your news and information from the Internet—it’s free.

  • Wipe your tookis Chris Stigall

    Lenfest has just made a deal with the Scott toilet paper people to print the paper on their stock, rather than regular newsprint in order to save money, and have the readers decide on how they wish to dispose of the paper after they read it!