NordStar Capital is to acquire Torstar’s businesses including the Toronto Star and a portfolio of other news media businesses, including the Markham Economist & Sun and 70 other Metroland papers.
Torstar believes the transaction will allow for the continuation of the company’s storied history: a home for world class, local journalism and fearless, progressive positions. Under the terms of the transaction, NordStar, controlled by Jordan Bitove and Paul Rivett and wholly-owned by the Bitove and Rivett families, will acquire all of the issued and outstanding Class A shares and Class B non-voting shares of Torstar for $0.63 in cash per share, representing a 66.67% premium to the 20-day volume-weighted average trading price of the Class B non-voting shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange as at May 25, 2020.
“While we have loved the company and are immensely proud of it, the time has come to pass the torch,” said John Honderich, chair of the Board of Torstar. “We hope the sale will benefit Torstar in the years ahead and believe that this is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the company. We are delighted to know that the new owners have pledged to build on Torstar’s legacy of quality journalism and to promote the Atkinson Principles at the Toronto Star.”
“We believe in news. With this transaction we can ensure a future for world-class journalists and world-class journalism befitting the Star’s storied history,” said Jordan Bitove. “My family has always sought to contribute to the fabric of this country. Today’s announcement reflects those values and builds on that history. We are committed to investing in the news business, along with preserving the Atkinson Principles, as fairness and accuracy will continue to guide the papers’ prevailing value system. While the company’s business will become private, its focus will remain steadfastly public. As the business of news changes, the Toronto Star’s founding principles will not.”
NordStar has advised that former Ontario premier David Peterson has agreed to be appointed as Vice Chair of the Toronto Star following completion of the transaction.
Torstar CEO John Boynton is expected to continue in his role following the completion of the transaction and the new owners have expressed their support for, and commitment to, the organization’s transformation strategy.
“Since its inception as the Evening Star, the Star has been the voice of this city. As Canada’s largest daily newspaper, it has fulfilled a vital civic role as an outlet for expert opinion and what’s trusted as true,” said Paul Rivett. “Jordan and I are very excited to become involved with the business that Joe Atkinson built and we are very fortunate to have the Honourable David Peterson, former Premier of Ontario, as our Vice Chair of the Toronto Star.”
Torstar expects to mail an information circular in June 2020 for a special meeting of the Class A and Class B shareholders, expected to be held in mid-July 2020 to approve the transaction. Assuming the timely receipt of all required approvals, the transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2020.
The press release announcing the deal provided no indication of what the future will hold for its community news outlets.