Billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch — known for bankrolling conservative causes — won’t be buying the newspapers up for sale by Tribune Co.
A spokeswoman for Koch industries said Friday the group would not be bidding for the newspapers which include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, confirming a report in the Daily Caller.
The mere suggestion that the Koch brothers were interested in the newspapers sparked a spate of protests in cities where Tribune Co. newspapers operate in recent months over fears they would use the dailies to further conservative political causes.
But the decision not to buy the newspapers in the end appeared to turn on economic considerations.
The Daily Caller reported late Thursday that Koch determined that purchasing the newspapers was “not economically viable” and that both parties walked away from the negotiations.
“Koch continues to have an interest in the media business and we’re exploring a broad range of opportunities where we think we can add value,” company spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia said in an emailed statement.
“In terms of the Tribune, the Daily Caller story is accurate.”
The Tribune Co. newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and five others could be sold in what may be one of the biggest newspaper deals in US history.
In July, Tribune Co. announced plans to spin off its newspaper division from its television holdings in a move to designed to “maximize shareholder value.”
Tribune Co. which emerged from bankruptcy December 31 after four years of court supervision, owns 23 television stations and recently announced a $2.7 billion deal to buy 19 more.
The Koch brothers are known for backing policy groups such as the libertarian Cato Institute think tank in Washington.
They also were behind the formation of the Americans for Prosperity political action group, which supports many causes backed by the ultra-conservative Tea Party, although they are not formally affiliated.