Drew Katz says he's selling his stake in newspapers, Philly.com

Posted: June 12, 2014

JUST 10 DAYS after a plane crash took his father's life, Drew Katz confirmed last night that he's selling his stake in the Daily News, the Inquirer and Philly.com to philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, making Lenfest the company's sole owner.

"Because of the turmoil of the last 10 days, I have made a decision that it would be in the best interests of TheInquirer, Daily News and Philly.com for me to sell my interest in the company," the 42-year-old son of Lewis Katz said in an email to local journalists.

He added: "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 surprise announcement was the latest twist in the dramatic saga of the newspapers in the nation's fifth-largest city.

At an auction just two weeks ago, Lenfest and Lewis Katz, a South Jersey parking-lot-and-billboard magnate, bid $88 million and took control of the media company - known until then as Interstate General Media - from the majority ownership led by South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross.

Four days later, on May 31, Katz and six other people died when his private jet crashed on takeoff at an airport in Massachusetts, where he had attended an event.

Drew Katz issued his statement in response to queries about a report on the website BigTrial.net.

Katz said that although he has decided to sell his stake, "no deal has been consummated," and that he "will have more to say" if and when the deal is reached. The $88 million purchase is scheduled to be finalized today.

Katz, CEO of Interstate Outdoor Advertising and also a philanthropist, said in the email that he wanted to dispel suggestions in the BigTrial.net report of a rift between he and Lenfest, who was not available for comment last night.

"Mr. Lenfest sent me a heartfelt, beautiful note when my father passed away," he said. "My father loved Gerry Lenfest and Gerry loved my dad."

On Twitter: @Will_Bunch

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