With its takeover, the new company began to remove a number of top managers. Inquirer editor William K. Marimow stepped down Thursday and was replaced by an acting editor, Stan Wischnowski, formerly a deputy managing editor. Marimow said he would stay at the paper as an investigative reporter. The companywide staff reduction amounted to less than 5 percent, officials said.
Gregory J. Osberg, a former publisher of Newsweek, is Philadelphia Media Network's president and chief executive officer. He issued a statement acknowledging the end of the bankruptcy:
"We are pleased to finally begin operating the newspapers and Philly.com, and we believe that the company has tremendous potential as we build out our brands in the great city of Philadelphia, the fourth-largest media market in the nation."
One of Osberg's first moves is already unfolding - bringing the staff of Philly.com from its Center City suite of offices to the headquarters building at 400 N. Broad St. He plans "an integration summit" involving newsroom leaders of The Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com on behalf of fast-tracking multimedia initiatives. There will be a series of meetings with employees beginning Monday.
A native of Paoli and a graduate of Conestoga High School, Osberg most recently was president and chief executive of Buzzwire Inc., a mobile-media company that provides content and video for mobile phones.
Robert J. Hall, publisher of The Inquirer and Daily News from 1990 to 2003, will serve as chief operating officer. Both men will be part of the new company's board of directors.
Others named to the board are investment banker Martin R. Wade III, chief executive officer of Broadcaster Inc.; David B. Hertzog, a corporate attorney with Winston & Strawn L.L.P. in New York City; Harold T. Epps, president and CEO of PRWT Services Inc.; and writer Jacob Weisberg, former editor of the online magazine Slate, owned by the Washington Post Co.
In an interview Thursday, Weisberg said he was excited to be a part of an admittedly daunting effort to take a large, traditional newspaper company and keep its products relevant in the digital age.
"In addition to being a historical institution, it is an incredibly distinguished journalistic organization," he said. "I think making it work is both a huge challenge and something that is hugely important to the region."
He saw his role as helping identify digital opportunities for the company but was firm in his belief that The Inquirer and the Daily News remain important components of the company's success.
"How long people are going to be reading print vs. mobile devices vs. on the Internet, nobody knows," he said. "From my point of view, you have to be right on top of all of them. Any way people want to be accessing your content, you have to be providing it."
Weisberg offered a forward look for a company that has been mired in the financial problems of its recent past. The media firm has been in bankruptcy since February 2009.
The previous owner, Philadelphia Media Holdings L.L.C., was a group of local investors led by Brian P. Tierney, a former advertising executive, who bought the papers and website for $515 million from the McClatchy Co. in 2006. When the company declared bankruptcy, it owed its senior lenders about $318 million.
The bankruptcy was a tortured affair marked by contention and animosity. It also led to an appellate court ruling upending what was heretofore a tenet of bankruptcy - that creditors have the right to use their debt to claim a company that has been put up for sale.
In this instance, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that Tierney's group could sell the company at auction and require lenders that wanted to bid to do so in cash.
Ultimately, there were two auctions for the company, one in April and a second in September. Both ended the same way, with the company's senior lenders winning with a bid of about $139 million.
The first sale never closed because of the inability of the new owners to reach a contract agreement with the papers' unionized drivers. The second sale, on Sept. 23, was completed, with all unions signing new deals.
The company now is owned by a wide variety of hedge funds and investment banks that for the most part purchased the company's debt at discount rates during the bankruptcy.
The largest stakeholders include Alden Global Capital; Credit Suisse; Northwood Capital; and Angelo, Gordon & Co.
Contact staff writer Christopher K. Hepp at 215-854-2208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.