Downtown financier and philanthropist Malin Burnham has confirmed that he is organizing a nonprofit corporation to take over U-T San Diego, the city’s daily newspaper and website, as first reported here earlier this week by Don Bauder.
Photo from Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate newsletter
Burnham, who over the years has played many roles in the city’s financial, political, and sports communities, said in a Saturday-morning telephone interview that the paper’s current owner, GOP developer Douglas Manchester, is interested in transferring the paper to the proposed new ownership once its nonprofit status is approved by the Internal Revenue Service and final details are arranged.
He said he expected the IRS process to take 30 days and that a deal could be in hand within substantially less than a year.
The Point Loma financier said that the arrangement would not include ownership of the U-T’s Mission Valley headquarters, on the site of which Manchester has proposed development of condominiums and spaces for commercial use.
“We would be a tenant” in the building, said Burnham. The question of whether the paper would continue to be printed at the U-T facility or jobbed out to another printer is still being studied, he added.
Announcement of a fundraising campaign to provide operating cash for the new operation awaits IRS approval of the venture, Burnham said.
As first reported here by Bauder in September 2011, Manchester took over the paper from Beverly Hills–based Platinum Equity, which bought the operation from David Copley in 2009. (Copley died three years later.)
Efforts by Manchester and his associate John Lynch to re-mold the U-T into a post-print multimedia powerhouse appeared to suffer setbacks when the paper folded its ambitious cable TV operation and an op-ed partnership with a Koch brothers–linked nonprofit, the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, ended.
In addition to his political activities, Burnham has been a supporter of cross-border trade development and an investor in Mexico. His sports interests have ranged from the America’s Cup to part-ownership of his real-estate company with former Padres owner John Moores.