When the US Department of Justice required Black Press to put the Honolulu Star-Bulletin up for sale in order to receive antitrust permission to buy the larger Honolulu Advertiser from Gannett it seemed like a mere formality. No one in their right mind, it seemed, would bid for a dying daily. Surprise! Three bidders have arisen.
According to the story in the Star-Bulletin, whose staffers are no doubt following developments very closely, Texas businessman Brian Ferguson, who runs Anthem Newspaper Holdings is one bidder, although he also wants the deal to include the profitable free-circulation MidWeek, which Black Press didn’t propose to sell. So, the publisher of the Star-Bulletin says it will be up to DOJ whether that “nonstandard bid” is in the running. Despite its name, Anthem doesn’t currently own any newspapers, although it is a minority investor in AH Belo Corp.
Two other bids have been publicly confirmed. State Senator Sam Slom (R) and his long time business/life partner Malia Zimmerman, co-founder of the online Hawaii Reporter, say they have bid. Local entrepreneur Derick Harris has also submitted a bid and presented a business model to the newspaper’s union.
According to the Star-Bulletin story, DOJ, the Hawaii Attorney General and Black Press will meet April 20th to determine whether any final bid should be accepted.