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Tribune board will consider $680M bid after OK’ing lower offer

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Tribune board will consider $680M bid after OK'ing lower offer

Efforts to buy the publisher of the New York Daily News and the Chicago Tribune are heating up yet again.

On Monday, Tribune Publishing said the special committee advising its board on a sale has given the thumbs up for the company to start reviewing a $680 million buyout offer by hotel magnate Stewart Bainum and Swiss-born investor Hansjorg Wyss.

The Bainum/Wyss offer, made through their newly formed Newslight joint venture, offers to pay Tribune shareholders $18.50 a share in cash — rivaling a $17.25-per-share cash offer by hedge fund Alden Global Capital.

The latter offer values Tribune at $630 million and was approved by the board in February.

But the publishing giant, which also owns the Orlando Sentinel and the Hartford-Courant, said in its Monday press release the special committee has determined that Newslight’s offer can reasonably be expected to lead to a superior proposal.

“The acquisition proposal from Newslight is fully financed by equity commitments from Mr. Bainum and Mr. Wyss, and remains subject to certain conditions, including completion of due diligence and negotiation of definitive documentation,” Tribune said Monday, confirming a Sunday report by the Wall Street Journal.

The approval paves the way for Tribune to start conducting its due diligence on Newslight’s offer and to see if they to reach a definitive purchase agreement.

The progress made by the billionaire duo is expected to be welcome news to Tribune staffers given Alden’s reputation for brutal cost-cutting at newspapers it controls through its Media News Group.

Still, the battle isn’t over yet. The special committee’s move doesn’t necessarily mean Tribune will nix its existing merger agreement with Alden. Alden, a large Tribune shareholder with two seats on Tribune’s board, could always seek to top the rival offer.

Alden, which already owns 31.6 percent of Tribune purchased at an average price of $12.38 over the course of the past 18 months, could also choose to walk away. That decision would net it about $100 million for its stake, plus $20 million from the bust-up fee agreed to by Tribune.

The special committee, which consists of the three independent non-Alden aligned directors on the Tribune board “will carefully consider the outcome of its discussions with Newslight and its principals in order to determine the course of action that is in the best interest of Tribune and its stockholders, subject to the terms of the Alden Merger Agreement,” the company.

“There can be no assurance that the discussions with Newslight and its principals will result in a binding proposal,” Tribune noted Monday.

If Newslight ends up toppling Alden’s offer, Bainum and Wyss are then expected to start entertaining offers to sell off some of Tribune’s assets.

Bainum — better known as the chairman of Choice Hotels International, which owns Quality Inn and Comfort Inn chains — has said he is interested in keeping the Baltimore Sun, the Capitol Gazette and other small Maryland papers to run as a not-for-profit. Wyss, founder of a medical-device maker later bought by Johnson & Johnson, has said he’s interested in the Chicago Tribune.

Mason Slaine, the third largest shareholder at Tribune with a 3.4 percent stake, confirmed he would be interested in buying the Orlando Sentinel and the South Florida Sun Sentinel from Bainum and Wyss, if they succeed with their proposal.

Another suitor, Craig Mateer, a former owner of Bags Inc., has stepped forward to say he, too, is interested in buying only the Orlando Sentinel, according to a report by that paper.

And Gary Lutin, a New York investor who heads the Shareholder Forum, has been identified as a potential buyer of the Allentown Morning Call. He is reportedly heading a group that is willing to pay $30 million to $40 million.

Sources close to the Bainum/Wyss team say that at least one other suitor has stepped forward to express interest in the Lehigh Valley paper.

There is also a group of local investors discussing a bid for the Hartford Courant, a source close to the process told The Post. The potential investors were planning to huddle Monday to decide their course of action, the source said.

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Dogecoin jumps again to double record rally price

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Dogecoin jumps again to double record rally price

Dogecoin has doubled from its Wednesday morning rally to reach prices of more than $0.30 Thursday night.

The dog meme-inspired cryptocurrency — that began as a joke — is up 400 percent over the past week, according to Coindesk.

The surge came a day after Wednesday’s stock market debut for the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, which was considered a sign of Wall Street’s acceptance of crypto. However, Dogecoin is not listed on Coinbase.

Doge was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter Thursday night, and at least one user told The Post they were unable to purchase the currency on Robinhood, due to the app crashing as its value skyrocketed.

“Doge Barking at the Moon,” tweeted SpaceX’s Elon Musk, who once said Dogecoin is his favorite Bitcoin rival.

“Me on Robinhood checking if #dogecoin has reached the moon every 2 seconds,” another user tweeted.

“There is fixing to be a lot of Meme Millionaires,” one user posted.

Dallas Mavericks owner Marc Cuban began accepting Dogecoin for payment for NBA tickets and merchandise last month.

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Robinhood sues Massachusetts over regulatory clampdown

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Robinhood sues Massachusetts over regulatory clampdown

 Online brokerage Robinhood on Thursday sued to invalidate Massachusetts’ recently-adopted fiduciary rule and block state regulators from proceeding with charges it encourages inexperienced investors to place risky trades without limits.

Robinhood in a lawsuit filed in state court in Boston said the fiduciary standard of conduct for broker-dealers that Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s office adopted last year violates state and federal law.

A spokeswoman for Galvin did not respond to a request for comment.

Galvin, the state’s top securities regulator, in December filed an administrative case accusing Robinhood of using aggressive tactics to attract inexperienced investors and failing to prevent outages on its platform.

He accused the app-based service of using strategies that treated trading like a game to lure young, inexperienced customers, including having confetti rain down for each trade made on its app.

The case is the first enforcement action brought under a state fiduciary rule adopted in September that raised the investment-advice standard for brokers.

Regulators are seeking a fine and order requiring Robinhood to engage a compliance consultant to review its platform and policies. Robinhood has denied wrongdoing.

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Veterans included in latest round

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Veterans included in latest round

The feds just doled out another 2 million stimulus checks — and a large chunk of them went to veterans.

The Internal Revenue Service’s fifth batch of coronavirus relief payments under the American Rescue Plan included more than 320,000 checks for people relying Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, officials said.

Those taxpayers are receiving compensation benefits or VA pensions available to veterans as well as their spouses or other relatives in some cases, according to the feds.

Like many Social Security recipients who had to wait for their stimulus checks, these VA beneficiaries do not usually file tax returns and didn’t submit their payment info to the IRS when previous payments were distributed last year, the tax agency said Wednesday.

The IRS had to review payment data it received from the VA to deliver money to the affected veterans, officials have said.

The VA beneficiaries’ checks were among more than $3.4 billion worth of “economic impact payments” that the IRS said it started processing last Friday and officially paid on Wednesday.

Nearly 850,000 payments in the latest batch went to people whose payment info the IRS did not have on record but recently filed a tax return, according to the feds. Another 72,000 went to the aforementioned Social Security beneficiaries who didn’t file income taxes in either of the last two years, officials said.

There were also more than 700,000 “plus-up” payments to taxpayers who received an initial check in March based on their 2019 tax returns but qualified for more money based on their recently processed 2020 returns, the IRS said.

The feds have now given out about 159 million stimulus payments worth more than $376 billion since President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion spending package authorizing the checks last month, officials said.

This week’s batch of payments included nearly 1.2 million direct deposits and close to 800,000 paper checks, according to the IRS.

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