Torstar Corp. says it has agreed to be sold to NordStar Capital for $52 million.
The company, which owns The Toronto Star, also publishes more than 70 newspapers and operates dozens of digital businesses in Canada, according to the company’s website.
The transaction, which will see the media company taken private, was recommended by a special committee of Torstar’s board of directors and has the support of the majority of its shareholders and its largest independent shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.
NordStar is controlled by Jordan Bitove and Paul Rivett and wholly owned by the Bitove and Rivett families. Rivett recently retired from his role as president of Fairfax Financial Holdings.
According to a news release by Torstar, former Ontario premier David Peterson has agreed to be appointed as vice-chair of the Toronto Star following completion of the transaction, while Torstar CEO John Boynton is expected to continue in his role.
“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, in the release. The statement went on to say 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,” Bitove said in the same statement.
In a column in the Star Tuesday, Honderich explained more about what was behind the sale. “No one disputes that the business model for newspapers has come under immense pressure,” he said.
“In this new digital era, with Facebook and Google taking the lion’s share of all digital advertising, media outlets have been going under across North America. The COVID-19 crisis has made the situation even worse.”
He said the Star was far from immune. And while Honderich also said the paper had tried to innovate and adopt new strategies to succeed, it had been “an uphill struggle.”