Robert Bush 8:35 a.m., May 25
Rumor: Papa Doug Buying U-T
This is strictly a rumor, but worth reporting. It goes like this: iconic local hotelier Doug (Papa Doug) Manchester is buying the U-T. I have not yet heard back from Platinum Equity, the Beverly Hills private equity group that owns the U-T, and could not scare up anybody at Manchester's office.
The roots of the rumor go deep: on July 11 Platinum hired Evercore Partners to help evaluate strategic alternatives for the U-T. About a week ago, some distinguished-looking people in suits were going through the building, stirring up a buzz. However, if one of them had been Manchester, the employees would have recognized him. Also recently, some reporters from other papers called to see if it was true that the paper was being sold: editor Jeff Light then denied it.
Manchester as a buyer would be full of ironies. He is not cooperative with the press. His interest would probably be in the real estate end of the deal. That was one of Platinum's main interests, but it has not been successful dumping real estate. Platinum paid only $50 million for the U-T, and may have paid as little as $35 million.
The Mission Valley office alone is assessed at $92 million, and several other buildings went to Platinum in the deal. Manchester earlier this year sold the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel to Host Hotels for $570 million in cash and stock, but his stock in NextWave has been doing very poorly.
REMEMBER: THIS IS A RUMOR. I WILL UPDATE IF I HEAR SOMETHING MORE DEFINITIVE.