It’s final. Drew Katz has sold his shares in Interstate General Media to Gerry Lenfest. And he affirmed Lenfest’s leadership of the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com on his way out.
"Gerry Lenfest, like my father, strongly believes in independent journalism," Katz said in a statement. "He supports journalistic integrity and my father’s primary objective will be met under Gerry’s stewardship. I will support him in any way that I can to continue this strong and fundamental journalistic right. "
"Today is the beginning of a bright future for Philadelphia's three most important institutions for news: The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com," Lenfest said in his own prepared statement. "I am honored to confirm that a successful sale of these publications has now concluded. I feel humbled by the privilege to now own these award-winning print and digital news institutions."
"While the Guild hoped Drew Katz would stay involved, we completely understand that this is not a time when he could give a commitment to learning about a new business," said Daily News columnist Howard Gensler, who is president of the Newspaper Guild that represents journalists at the newspapers. "He has many important personal and family issues that require his attention. Now that the ownership issue is settled, we look forward to working with Mr. Lenfest and a new publisher to end the drama and make the company great."
Full statements below. First from Drew Katz:
DREW KATZ STATEMENT ON IGM SALE
Philadelphia, June 18, 2014 – Drew Katz issued the following expanded statement today regarding the
sale of Interstate General Media:
“For the past eighteen days, my family and I have continued to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support for my father and for our family. However, despite this constant and wonderful show of support, we have not had time to grieve not only the loss of our father but also the ongoing pain of losing our mother less than six months ago. In light of these extraordinary and completely unanticipated circumstances, I have decided to sell my father’s stake in IGM to Gerry Lenfest.
As everyone who read or heard my father eulogized understood, he cared more about his family than anything else. Today, I am making this decision that is not only in the best interest of IGM but also in the best interest of our family. If I have learned anything from my dad, it is that sometimes in life decisions need to be made that are not about financial gain but in the best interest of all.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com will be in excellent hands with Gerry Lenfest. My father had enormous respect and love for Gerry as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in America and more recently as this region’s unparalleled philanthropist.
I also believe that it is in the best interests of the company to have a majority owner with all the rights to effectuate one vision. Coming off of the recent experience of a 50‐50 ownership deadlock, I know that a single focused owner like Gerry Lenfest will allow these excellent news organizations to grow even stronger and continue to prosper well into the future.
Gerry Lenfest, like my father, strongly believes in independent journalism. He supports journalistic integrity and my father’s primary objective will be met under Gerry’s stewardship. I will support him in any way that I can to continue this strong and fundamental journalistic right.
Once again, I want to thank the thousands of people who have expressed their love and affection for my father and my family. We now need time together to grieve and recover from this enormous and compound loss of our mother and father. I wish Gerry and all the staff and employees of the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com well and know that they will be successful.”
Editor’s Note: Drew Katz will not be available for interviews. This statement will serve as his comment on today’s transaction.
Then from Gerry Lenfest:
Statement by Gerry Lenfest (For Immediate Release 11:50 A.M., Wednesday, June 18, 2014)
"Today is the beginning of a bright future for Philadelphia's three most important institutions for news: The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily Newsand Philly.com. I am honored to confirm that a successful sale of these publications has now concluded. I feel humbled by the privilege to now own these award-winning print and digital news institutions.
This opportunity would not have ever been possible without my close friend and partner, Lewis Katz. Lewis and I shared a strong belief that our City deserved the very best daily news resources, each with a commitment to the highest of journalistic standards. I continue to mourn the loss of Lewis, but his proud legacy will continue through my dedication to preserving these publications for many generations.
I know that Lewis' fine children, Drew and Melissa, will always remember how their father and I shared such a deep appreciation for outstanding journalism. I respect the Katz’s family decision to sell their interest. They rightly need this time to grieve and to heal after this terrible and tragic loss. The Katz Family will remain in my thoughts during this new journey, as each publication will proceed with an important mission: their continued provision of contributing the finest journalism to our region.
The coming weeks and months will be very gratifying for me to begin building upon the outstanding work of so many employees that represent the company. I know every employee remains as committed, as I feel today, in effectively continuing to serve our readers and advertisers for many years to come."
** END OF STATEMENT BY GERRY LENFEST**
NOTE: Gerry Lenfest will not be available for interviews. This statement will serve as his comment on today’s transaction.