What a stunning turn of events: Just months ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com had far too many owners. An ownership faction led by New Jersey political force George Norcross was battling another faction consisting of entrepreneur Lewis Katz and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, a prominent Philadelphia philanthropist.
Following a court battle over who could do what with the editorial operations of the company, Katz and Lenfest bought out Norcross and his partners for a price of $88 million.
Down to two owners.
Just days after becoming a co-owner, Katz died in a plane accident outside of Boston, and his stake passed along to his son, Drew Katz. In a transaction reported by the Associated Press, Lenfest has bought out the Katz family’s $16 million stake. Drew Katz said he had to “focus on his family’s interests,” according to the AP. These days, the “family’s interests” rarely involve ownership in legacy media outlets.
A man of considerable wealth, Lenfest is well-suited to newspaper ownership in tough times. Eighty-four years old, he has fought a long battle for control of the company not for financial gain, obviously, but rather to preserve an independent editorial voice for the region. “It’s not a situation you’re in to make money,” Lenfest told the Erik Wemple Blog last year.