Over the weekend, News Corp. unexpectedly dropped out of the bidding for Newsday, the Long Island tabloid that was put on the block by Tribune Company last month. It was not long ago that Rupert Murdoch was telling Long Island officials that he had the deal in the bag for $580 million. But when Cablevision outbid him by $70 million, his company stepped back, calling the price tag “uneconomical.” Tribune owner Sam Zell moved quickly to close the $650 million deal with Cablevision. As part of the bargain, Zell will still have a 3 percent equity partnership in Newsday, thereby delaying its massive tax burden on the sale.
It was an abrupt end to a tumultuous bidding war, which at times included Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman and Observer owner Jared Kushner. Kushner dropped out a few weeks ago, but Zuckerman was said to be marshalling a higher bid as recently as last week. In a somewhat hilarious twist on the story, the Journal ended its serious financial coverage of the deal with a personal detail about Zuckerman (rival to Journal and Post owner Murdoch):
For his part, Mr. Zuckerman seemed unfazed by the outcome. Reached at his home Sunday, Mr. Zuckerman said he was taking a piano lesson, adding that his daughter had just expressed admiration for his rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Memory.”
Hm. If that’s a metaphor, we’re not quite sure we get it.