by Andrew Walden
The Obama Department of Justice has concluded its inquiry into anti-trust issues related to the purchase of the Honolulu Advertiser by owners of the Star-Bulletin. The inquiry, which had been demanded April 20 by Senator Dan Inouye in a letter sent to the DoJ anti-trust division, found no reason for justice to block the sale. Inouye had supported Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in the 2008 Hawaii Democrat caucuses.
Interestingly, Inouye’s demand came immediately after the Advertiser’s April 18 endorsement of Inouye nemesis Ed Case, facing off in the May 1-22 Congressional Special Election against Republican Charles Djou and Inouye's favorite, Senate President Colleen Hanabusa. Ed Case’s uncle, Grove Farm corporate attorney Dan H. Case, is among the Star-Bulletin minority owners participating in the takeover of the Advertiser.
In an email sent out early this afternoon, Star-Bulletin “The Buzz” columnist Erika Engle wrote: “I am SUUUUUPER relieved. I believe this means the Guild contract with Star-Bulletin parent Oahu Publications Inc. will continue to be in force.” The Advertiser reports the deal "will likely result in mass layoffs at both newspapers."
As part of the purchase, the Star-Bulletin's owners will either sell the Star-Bulletin or merge it into a new publication to be called the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The transaction is expected to close Saturday May 1.
Three groups of potential purchasers have emerged. State Sen. Sam Slom (R-Hawaii Kai) and www.HawaiiReporter.com publisher Malia Zimmerman, backed by local businesspeople in the Smart Business Hawaii group Slom heads are believed to be preparing a final offer for the Star-Bulletin to be submitted today. Other potential purchasers include Texas-based Anthem Newspapers, and Frederick "Derick" Harris, owner of Big Island-based Cyber ID.