Judge orders newspaper's rival factions to court

George E. Norcross III, whose
George E. Norcross III, whose (faction has filed a parallel claim in Delaware Chancery Court.)
Posted: January 12, 2014

A Philadelphia judge has ordered the owners battling for control of The Inquirer's parent company to come to her courtroom Monday, and explain why she should not dissolve their partnership and approve a public auction of the company.

In an order issued late Friday, Common Pleas Court Judge Patricia A. McInerney scheduled a 10 a.m. hearing on a petition filed by Lewis Katz and H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest to dissolve the 2012 partnership that formed Interstate General Media.

"We asked for this expedited decision and are very pleased with this outcome," their spokesman, Jay Devine, said in an e-mail.

Katz and Lenfest want McInerney to appoint a trustee to oversee the public sale of IGM assets, including The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com.

Their rival owners in the company, George E. Norcross III, Joseph Buckelew, and William P. Hankowsky, have filed a parallel claim in Delaware Chancery Court, but are seeking a private auction limited to the current owners. Dan Fee, their spokesman, declined to comment Friday on McInerney's order.

The Philadelphia judge sided with Katz and Lenfest in November, reinstating fired Inquirer editor William K. Marimow over the objections of publisher Robert J. Hall and a faction of IGM partners led by Norcross.

Both sides have vowed to outbid the other at any auction. Both also agree that the company is headed toward paralysis - or is already there - because the current partnership agreement requires all major decisions to be approved by Norcross and Katz.

In court papers filed Friday, lawyers for Katz and Lenfest say IGM and its managing members were "deadlocked and unable to make important business decisions - including who The Inquirer's publisher and editor should be," and warn that "the resulting paralysis is threatening the viability of the enterprise."


dsell@phillynews.com

215-854-4506

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