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Inquirer sale a vote of confidence

Our new owners turned down $125 million because they believe our news operations, ad sales and distribution networks are worth a lot more

It's not just that Ron Perelman and a posse of hard-headed Philadelphia businessmen were willing to pump an eighth of a billion dollars into the Inquirer, Daily News, and other Philadelphia Newspapers LLC properties.

It's also that Angelo Gordon & Co. and a collection of demanding investors were willing to turn down Perelman and Co.'s offer -- which was worth an impressive 40 cents for every dollars our owners ran up in the inflated 2007 corporate buyout market.

If they'd taken the offer, most of the creditors could have pocketed a sure profit, or at least limited their losses. But the creditors held out, and won, because they believe we're worth more. And that's a huge vote of confidence.

The presumptive owners won't be able to beat the hometown offer if they shut and sell us in pieces. The real estate - the aging Broad Street headquarters, the written-down Upper Merion printing plant - won't fetch near the $129 million the locals offered. They also know they'll get poor results if they starve the news departments, strip operations, or re-load us with unpayable debt.

The creditors hung on and bested the hometown investors because they believe we, the people who put together, distribute and sell the news, features and investigative reporting assembled daily under veteran Inquirer editor Bill Marimow and frugal Daily News boss Mark Frisby can make them more money than if they grabbed the best offer and ran.

It won't be easy. In the months to come we'll be seeing a lot of posturing from bosses about how much they need to cut. Our elected union leaders will push right back. In time there'll be a settlement. Some of us will lose our jobs. That's an old sad story in our business, under a string of owners.

Smart people and real money are betting we'll succeed. Remember that next time you hear the broadcast media, the little websites and other puny would-be competitors jabber about the situation here. Check out their ads, their circulation, their web stats. And their anemic content. Who's lining up to spend millions on them?