Chellie Pingree’s husband gives boost to MaineToday Media

Posted Feb. 10, 2012, at 6:35 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 10, 2012, at 7:54 p.m.
S. Donald Sussman
Pivot Point Inc. | AP
S. Donald Sussman

PORTLAND, Maine — The husband of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree is providing a multimillion loan and taking an ownership stake in the financially struggling company that owns The Portland Press Herald, officials said Friday.

MaineToday Media announced that it had reached terms with Maine Values LLC that includes a loan valued at between $3 million and $4 million. Maine Values is owned by S. Donald Sussman, a hedge fund manager and philanthropist who wed Pingree last year.

Sussman, who’ll own a 5 percent stake and have a seat on the board, told the Portland Press Herald that he won’t be involved in daily operations or editorial policy.

“I believe a community’s newspaper says a lot about the importance it places on education, democracy and working together to get things done,” Sussman said in a statement. “I am investing in and loaning working capital to MaineToday Media because I believe the communities it serves deserve healthy, financially stable daily newspapers that can help foster these values we all share.”

Sussman, of North Haven, is the founder of the Paloma Partners hedge fund, an investment firm in Greenwich, Conn., that manages more than $1.7 billion in funds.

MaineToday Media owns and operates the Kennebec Journal, the Morning Sentinel and the Coastal Journal, in addition to the Portland Press Herald and several digital properties.

The deal announced on Friday comes a month after investors led by former Portland Press Herald President Chris Harte and the 2100 Trust LLC agreed to a deal to become the majority owner of MaineToday Media. The deal fell through after the newspaper’s biggest union rejected demands for broad concessions.

Sussman said he got involved after members of The Portland Newspaper Guild convinced him that the newspapers were at risk of closing without a quick infusion of cash.

Press Herald staff writer and Portland Newspaper Guild President Tom Bell said his union members are supportive of the new partnership with Maine Values LLC.

“Our members are partial owners of MaineToday Media through our employee stock ownership program,” said Bell. “We have worked hard in partnership with management and the board of directors to help shape a plan to modernize our technology and strengthen this business. We are encouraged that Maine Values LLC supports that plan and is providing the resources to fund it.”

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