Alden Global Capital
TypePrivately held company
IndustryInvestment management
FounderRandall D. Smith
Lipstick Building, New York City, U.S.
Key people
Heath Freeman
ProductsHedge funds
AUM$1.04 billion
Number of employees

Alden Global Capital is a hedge fund based in Manhattan, New York City. It was founded in 2007 by Randall D. Smith.[2] Its managing director is Heath Freeman.[2][3] By mid-2020, Alden had stakes in roughly two hundred American newspapers.[4][5] The company added more newspapers to its portfolio in May 2021 when it purchased Tribune Publishing and became the second-largest newspaper publisher in the United States.[6][7][8][9]

The company operates its media holdings through Digital First Media (DFM), which it acquired in 2010 after DMG's parent company, MediaNews Group, declared bankruptcy.[10] With its acquisition of Tribune Publishing in late May 2021, Alden is collectively the second-largest owner of newspapers in the United States, as calculated by average daily print circulation, second only to Gannett.[11]

In November 2021, Alden Global Capital made an offer to purchase Lee Enterprises for $24 a share in cash, or about $141 million.[12] Lee owns daily newspapers in 77 markets in 26 states, and about 350 weekly and specialty publications.[13]

Newspapers in Alden's portfolio include Chicago Tribune, The Denver Post, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Boston Herald, The Mercury News, East Bay Times, The Orange County Register, and Orlando Sentinel.[14][15]

Alden has a reputation for sharply cutting costs by reducing the number of journalists working on its newspapers.[16][17] In March 2018, Margaret Sullivan, the media columnist for The Washington Post, called Alden "one of the most ruthless of the corporate strip-miners seemingly intent on destroying local journalism."[18] and Vanity Fair dubbed Alden the "grim reaper of American newspapers."[19]

Alden received critical coverage from the editorial staff at the Denver Post, who described Alden Global Capital as "vulture capitalists" after multiple staff layoffs.[10][20][21]


The company has its origins in R.D. Smith & Company, a firm founded by Randall Duncan Smith, initially using the $20,000 cash prize he and his wife won on the 1968-1970 gameshow Dream House.[22]


MediaNews Group

Under the acquisition plan, MediaNews Group debt fell to $165 million from about $930 million. Senior lenders under the deal were to swap debt for stock. MediaNews Group came out of bankruptcy in March 2010 under the majority ownership of its lenders.[23] The appointees to the MediaNews board were replaced by new directors representing the stockholders group led by Alden Global Capital. Several interim executive positions were also filled by people related to Alden or its parent, Smith Management LLC.[24]

Tribune Publishing

In May 2021, Tribune Publishing finalized its sale to Alden, after having announced in February 2021 that it intended to pursue this path.[7][8] Alden's purchase price was $635 million, or $17.25 per share.[8][25] Tribune Publishing publishes nine major metropolitan dailies. These include the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, and The Baltimore Sun.

Alden began its acquisition of Tribune Publishing in 2019, when they paid $117.9 million to Michael Ferro for his 25.2-percent stake.[4]

Attempted acquisition of Gannett

In 2019, Alden attempted, but failed at, a hostile takeover of Gannett.[4]

Attempted acquisition of Lee Enterprises

Alden purchased a 5.9-percent stake in Lee Enterprises in January 2020. Lee Enterprises owns 77 daily newspapers, including the Buffalo News, Omaha World-Herald and the Tulsa World.[4][13]

In November 2021, Alden made an offer to Lee to purchase the company in its entirety for roughly $141 million.[13]

In response, the board of Lee Enterprises enacted a shareholder rights plan, colloquially known as a "poison pill", in order to ward off the purchase attempt. The specific shareholder rights plan adopted by the Lee board forbids Alden from purchasing more than 10% of the company, and will be in force for one year. The rationale offered by the board was, “Consistent with its fiduciary duties, Lee’s Board has taken this action to ensure our shareholders receive fair treatment, full transparency and protection in connection with Alden’s unsolicited proposal to acquire Lee."[26]

In early December, the board of Lee unanimously rejected the Alden bid, saying that the Alden proposal "grossly undervalues Lee and fails to recognize the strength of our business today."[27] Shortly thereafter, Alden Global, through its operating unit Strategic Investment Opportunities, filed a lawsuit in state court in Delaware against Lee Enterprises.[28] The Alden lawsuit asserts that the members of the Lee board "have every reason to maintain the status quo and their lucrative corporate positions" and that they are "focused more on [their] own power than what's best for the company."[29]

In mid-February 2022, the Delaware court found in favor of Lee Enterprises. In the face of that setback, Alden said it would turn to the tactic of filing a proxy statement asking the company's shareholders to vote no on board members Mary Junck and Herbert Moloney during the March 2022 board elections.[30] This attempt also failed, as shareholders returned both directors to the Lee board despite Alden's opposition.[31]

Real estate holdings

Alden Global Capital includes a real estate division called Twenty Lake Holdings, which primarily buys excess real estate from newspapers.[32]

In 2019, Twenty Lake Holdings reported that it had acquired about 180 properties with 2.3 million square feet of real estate in 29 states.[33]

Pension fund management

The company has been criticized for investing money for pensions of newspaper employees in funds it manages itself.[34]

Impact on newspapers

Alden Global Capital's management of American newspapers has been criticized. Joe Pompeo pilloried Alden in Vanity Fair for reducing newsrooms. He wrote, "Alden Global Capital has eliminated the jobs of scores of reporters and editors, and decimated journalism in cities all over the country: Denver, Boston, San Jose, Trenton, etc. Next up: Chicago, Baltimore, and the New York Daily News."[35]

In October 2021, The Atlantic examined the impact of Alden's acquisition of the Chicago Tribune, noting that, "The new owners did not fly to Chicago to address the staff, nor did they bother with paeans to the vital civic role of journalism. Instead, they gutted the place."[22]


  1. ^ "Alden Global Capital LLC – NEW YORK , NY". Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Company Overview of Alden Global Capital LLC". Bloomberg. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  3. ^ Ellison, Sarah, "Heath Freeman of Alden Global Capital says he wants to save local news. Somehow, no one's buying it.", The Washington Post, June 11, 2020. Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  4. ^ a b c d Jacobson, Savannah (June 29, 2020). "The most feared owner in American journalism looks set to take some of its greatest assets". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  5. ^ Nicholson, Kieran (March 8, 2018). "Minority shareholder sues Denver Post parent and NY hedge fund over 'breaches of fiduciary duty'". The Denver Post. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  6. ^ Yoksoulian, Lois (June 2, 2021). "What does the Chicago Tribune sale mean for the future of newsrooms?". Illinois News Bureau. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Folkenflik, David (May 21, 2021). "'Vulture' Fund Alden Global, Known For Slashing Newsrooms, Buys Tribune Papers". NPR. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c Tracy, Marc (February 16, 2021). "Hedge Fund Reaches a Deal to Buy Tribune Publishing". New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  9. ^ Jackson, David, and Gary Marx, "Opinion - Will The Chicago Tribune Be the Next Newspaper Picked to the Bone?" (op-ed), New York Times, January 19, 2020. Note: The writers were investigative reporters at The Chicago Tribune. Accessed January 20, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Ember, Sydney (April 7, 2018). "Denver Post Rebels Against Its Hedge-Fund Ownership". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  11. ^ Alpert, Lukas (May 21, 2021). "Tribune Says Sale to Alden Wins Approval Amid Confusion Over Key Shareholder's Vote". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  12. ^ Kellahar, Colin (November 22, 2021). "Lee Enterprises Shares Jump on Takeover Offer From Alden". MarketWatch. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c Benton, Joshua (November 22, 2021). "The vulture is hungry again: Alden Global Capital wants to buy a few hundred more newspapers". Nieman Lab. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  14. ^ Ember, Sydney (April 12, 2018). "Colorado Group Pushes to Buy Embattled Denver Post From New York Hedge Fund". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  15. ^ Kalansooriya, Jay (June 23, 2023). "Why Hedge Funds Are Doing This?". Above The Fold. Retrieved July 6, 2023.
  16. ^ Bauerlein, Monika (May 15, 2020). ""News is just like waste management."". Mother Jones. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  17. ^ Izadi, Elahe; Ellison, Sarah. "The battle for Tribune: Inside the campaign to find new owners for a legendary group of newspapers". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  18. ^ Sullivan, Margaret (March 15, 2018). "Is this strip-mining or journalism? 'Sobs, gasps, expletives' over latest Denver Post layoffs". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  19. ^ Pompeo, Joe (February 5, 2020). "The Hedge Fund Vampire That Bleeds Newspapers Dry Now Has the Chicago Tribune by the Throat". Vanity Fair Blogs.
  20. ^ Sanchez, Robert. "How Massive Cuts Have Remade The Denver Post", 5280 (magazine), September 2016.  Accessed February 13, 2020.
  21. ^ Doctor, Ken.  "Newsonomics: By selling to America’s worst newspaper owners, Michael Ferro ushers the vultures into Tribune", November 2019, Nieman Lab.  Accessed February 13, 2020.
  22. ^ a b Coppins, McKay (October 14, 2021). "A Secretive Hedge Fund Is Gutting Newsrooms". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on October 14, 2021. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  23. ^ McCarty, Dawn; Bensinger, Greg (January 22, 2010). "Affiliated Media Files for Bankruptcy to Restructure (Update2)". Business Week. Bloomberg. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
  24. ^ Langeveld, Martin (January 20, 2011). "The shakeup at MediaNews: Why it could be the leadup to a massive newspaper consolidation". Nieman Journalism Lab. The Nieman Foundation for Journalism (Harvard University). Retrieved February 22, 2011.
  25. ^ "Alden Global Capital to buy Tribune in deal valued at $630 million".
  26. ^ Mullin, Benjamin (November 24, 2021). "Lee Enterprises Enacts Poison Pill to Guard Against Alden Takeover". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  27. ^ Bruell, Alexandra (December 9, 2021). "Lee Enterprises Board Rejects Alden's Acquisition Offer". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 11, 2021.
  28. ^ Turner, Jonathan (December 21, 2021). "Alden Global Capital takes Lee Enterprises to court over failed board nominations". Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  29. ^ Fischer, Sara (December 15, 2021). "Alden Global Capital sues Lee Enterprises after rejected takeover bid". Axios, republished on Yahoo News. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  30. ^ Edmonds, Rick (February 15, 2022). "Alden Global Capital loses lawsuit to nominate its slate of candidates for Lee Enterprises' board". Retrieved February 20, 2022.
  31. ^ Hayden, Sarah (March 10, 2022). "Lee Enterprises shareholders reelect three directors amid hedge fund fight". Quad-City Times. Retrieved May 20, 2022.
  32. ^ Cridlin, Jay (August 31, 2021). "Tampa Bay Times sells printing plant to developer for $21 million". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  33. ^ O'Connell, Jonathan (February 11, 2019). "A hedge fund's 'mercenary' strategy: Buy newspapers, slash jobs, sell the buildings". Washington Post. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  34. ^ O'Connell, Jonathan (April 17, 2019). "The hedge fund trying to buy Gannett faces federal probe after investing newspaper workers' pensions in its own funds". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 17, 2019. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  35. ^ Pompeo, Joe (February 5, 2020). "The Hedge Fund Vampire That Bleeds Newspapers Dry Now Has the Chicago Tribune by the Throat". Vanity Fair Blogs. Archived from the original on February 6, 2020. Retrieved October 14, 2021.