Platinum Equity May Be Selling the San Diego Union-Tribune

After a little more than two years, Platinum Equity may be exiting the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The Union-Tribune has tapped Evercore Partners to search out alternatives for the newspaper, confirmed Mark Barnhill, a Platinum Equity spokesman, in an emailed response to questions.

“As we plan the next phase of the Union-Tribune’s development, the company has retained Evercore Partners to help evaluate strategic alternatives,” Barnhill wrote. “We manage a large and complex investment portfolio, and routinely consider a range of options that will best position our companies for the future.”

Typically, when a company hires a banker to search out “alternatives” this means it’s up for sale. Evercore also has a noted media group that includes Jonathan Knee, a Senior MD. Knee was involved in Businessweek’s sale to Bloomberg, CBS MarketWatch’s sale to Dow Jones and the Time Warner Cable spinoff, according to the Evercore web site.

Possible bidders for the Union-Tribune include MediaNews Group or the Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, according to press reports.

“They’re probably hoping a strategic will buy it – a newspaper publisher or broadcaster,” one banker says.

Some were surprised that Platinum Equity would seek to sell the Union-Tribune so quickly.  In May 2009, Platinum Equity acquired the property from Copley Press. The Los Angeles PE firm reportedly paid a little more than $15 million for the company.

“It seems too early to be putting it up for sale since they bought it not long ago,” the banker says.