Chatham Asset Management, LLC has announced that Tony Hunter will become chief executive officer of McClatchy Company, following the local news company's emergence from Chapter 11 and the completion of its court-approved sale to Chatham, in September.
McClatchy's asset purchase agreement with Chatham was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Aug. 4. The transaction is expected to close in September 2020, subject to customary closing conditions and the receipt of certain regulatory approvals.
Hunter will succeed Craig Forman, McClatchy's CEO, who along with the current board and Chairman Kevin McClatchy, will leave the company upon McClatchy's emergence from its court-supervised reorganization.
Hunter is an accomplished operating executive with extensive experience successfully leading large scale media organizations. He joined the Tribune Company in 1994, rising the ranks to chief executive officer of Tribune Publishing and publisher of the Chicago Tribune, a role he held from 2008 to 2016.
During his tenure at Tribune, he led the company through bankruptcy amid a global recession and transformed the traditional publishing business into a thriving and competitive media and business services company. Hunter led the reinvention of Tribune's business model in a rapidly evolving business environment, investing in local differentiated content, new digital products and services, and brokering innovative strategic partnerships and initiatives.
"Tony is an energetic, adaptive innovator with unparalleled expertise in the publishing industry. At this critical time for journalism, we are confident that his proven track record of implementing positive change and enhancing digital capabilities will serve McClatchy well. We look forward to furthering McClatchy's legacy of informing readers and providing meaningful value to the clients and communities its publications serve," said Chatham.
"McClatchy has a well-earned reputation for independent journalism in the public interest, and I am humbled to lead this institution alongside Chatham, a longtime supporter of McClatchy and the publishing industry," said Hunter. "Craig and his team have had impressive success in transitioning to a digital business model, which we intend to accelerate. While honoring its past and continuing its commitment to essential local reporting, we will chart a new, sustainable path for McClatchy focused on customers, operational excellence, and organizational agility."
"I have known Tony for several years, and we share mutual respect for one another and this industry. McClatchy is well positioned to grow from the strong foundation we have put in place," said Forman.
Previously, Hunter served as chairman of Nucleus Marketing Solutions, a collaborative venture between McClatchy, Gannett, Hearst and Tribune, from 2016 to 2019, as well as chairman of the News Media Alliance and a member of the board of the Alliance for Audited Media. He serves on the board of Metropolitan Family Services and is a former board member of United Way of Metro Chicago. He earned a B.A. from Coe College, an M.B.A. from DePaul University and is a non-practicing CPA.