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Figure Set on the Sale of N.Y. Daily News : Media: Magazine owner Mortimer Zuckerman agrees to pay $18 million for the ailing newspaper.

From Reuters

U.S. News & World Report owner Mortimer Zuckerman moved a step closer to buying the bankrupt Daily News on Thursday, agreeing in principle to pay $18 million for the tabloid.

Zuckerman has also agreed to assume about $8 million in other obligations and to provide a $3-million bridge loan to avert a cash crisis at the newspaper.

Bankruptcy Judge Tina Brozman will decide at a hearing next Wednesday whether to give Zuckerman the go-ahead on the deal.

“We are on the 10-yard line, and we have the first down,” Zuckerman said.

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He called the Daily News “the heartbeat” of the city. “It has been a great tabloid and we want to continue it as a great tabloid paper,” he said.

Zuckerman said Fred Drasner, president of U.S. News & World Report, will become publisher of the paper if the deal goes through, but he declined to comment on other editorial staff changes.

Marc Kirschner, lawyer for the News, said he expected the deal with Zuckerman to be done “before Thanksgiving.”

Zuckerman appeared jovial as he chatted before a morning court hearing on the acquisition with union leaders, including Barry Lipton, president of the Newspaper Guild. The guild represents 540 reporters, editors and clerical workers at the paper.

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Eight of the nine unions at the tabloid support Zuckerman as the new owner, but the guild has been at odds with him since negotiations got underway several months ago.

After an all-night, round-the-clock bargaining session, however, Lipton said the guild had made “significant progress” with Zuckerman on such issues as being able to fire employees regardless of seniority.

Guild leaders said Zuckerman is seeking to lay off 120 workers, but the number is being negotiated.

“This agreement will allow this company to exit from bankruptcy in less than a year and into capable hands,” Kirschner told the judge.

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“We believe this will eliminate the uncertainty to readers and the advertising community and allow this newspaper to march off into the next century.”


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