Tronc buys Virginia’s biggest newspaper, the Virginian-Pilot

The deal adds the Norfolk-based newspaper — the largest in Virginia — to the Tronc portfolio, along with specialty publications and a printing plant. Tronc has long owned the nearby Daily Press in Newport News, Va.

“The inclusion of The Virginian-Pilot further strengthens our presence in the region and renews our commitment to our longstanding tradition of journalistic excellence,” Justin Dearborn, Tronc’s chairman and chief executive, said in a news release.

Founded in 1865, The Virginian-Pilot is a Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper with a Sunday circulation of 132,000 as of last year, according to Tronc, which is also acquiring 460,000 square feet of real estate, including the newspaper’s Norfolk headquarters and its printing facilities in Virginia Beach.

“In order to most effectively continue its important work, the Virginian-Pilot must have the benefit of the resources of a large organization,” Rusty Friddell, executive vice president and general counsel of Landmark Media Enterprises, said in the news release.

Nancy Meyer, Tronc’s regional manager, will oversee integration efforts of the acquisition, working with local leaders at both the Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press, the company said. Tribune Co. — which a few years ago split into two pieces: Tribune Media Co. and the company that became Tronc— bought the Daily Press for $200 million in 1986. In 2014, Tribune Co. bought the Capital in Annapolis and the Carroll County Times, both in Maryland, for nearly $30 million from Landmark, expanding the reach of the company’s Baltimore Sun.

Tronc also owns the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News and other major daily newspapers. In recent months, Tronc effected layoffs in the newsrooms of outlets that it is not selling to Soon-Shiong.

In April, newly formed investor group McCormick Media said it would acquire the entire 25% stake of former Tronc Chairman Michael Ferro for $208.6 million. That deal has not yet closed.

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