J.P. Morgan Chase Is USA Today Publisher’s Biggest Shareholder

We know many of the biggest names in newspaper publishing — James Dolan, Carlos Slim, Arthur Sulzberger, Rupert Murdoch — but the name of long-deceased bazillionaire railroad tycoon J.P. Morgan rarely enters the conversation. This is a grave omission; his namesake bank is the largest shareholder in one of the nation’s most-read dailies by some counts and the second-largest investor in U.S. newspaper publishing, period.

J.P. Morgan Chase has disclosed in a filing with the SEC that it has invested in 24.3 million shares of USA Today publisher Gannett for a roughly 10% stake in the company. Says The Associated Press:

And JPMorgan didn’t make the investment with its own money; it bought the stock through investment arms that manage money for other institutions and individuals.

Bankruptcies at several major newspaper publishers have left J.P. Morgan Chase with equity positions in several other such companies. It owns shares in The Orange County Register, for example. Although the investments have come in part from dismal performances by newspaper companies, perhaps the bank has reason to be optimistic. Its analysts have recently upgraded performance forecasts for E. W. Scripps and made rosy predictions for the newspaper industry as a whole.