Michael Ferro Exits As Tronc Chairman Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Michael Ferro

Michael Ferro has stepped down as chairman of the Tronc board just hours before sexual misconduct allegations became public.

The controversial multi-millionaire, who led the drive to cut staff at the corporation’s publications while negotiating a $15 million consulting contract for himself, announced his plans to “retire” ahead of a Fortune magazine story detailing unwanted sexually advances by Ferro.

The article quoted two women with separate, on-the-record allegations that Ferro acted inappropriately in private meetings.

One woman, Kathryn Minshew, said Ferro had agreed to provide a $750,000 cash infusion for her startup, The Muse, in 2013, when he was chairman of the Wrapports investment firm. At his suggestion, they met later that evening at a corporate apartment in downtown Chicago under the guise of talking about a bigger funding round. It was there that he forcefully attempted to kiss her, she said.

Three years later, Hagan Keppler said she found herself in a similar situation at a private dinner in Ferro’s Aria hotel suite during the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. She told Fortune she thought she was meeting with Ferro to discuss thermostats. Instead, she said she was subjected to unwanted advances — including groping her breasts.

A Tronc spokesperson did not respond to a request from Deadline seeking comment.

“Michael Ferro has had no claims filed against him while leading Tronc as chairman,” Tronc said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “Further, we are aware of no claims filed against Mr. Ferro throughout his career. As Mr. Ferro has retired after leading a financial turnaround of Tronc, we wish him well in his private life and will have no further comment.”

Justin Dearborn, the company’s chief executive, will step in as chairman. Ferro will remain an investor in Tronc, and another of his companies, Merrick Ventures, will provide consulting services that will pay Ferro $5 million a year.
Ferro’s tenure was a particularly tumultuous one for the media company once known as Tribune Publishing. He fended off a takeover bid by Gannett, then changed the company’s name to Tronc — a name that was supposed to underscore the company’s online focus, but instead made it the object of ridicule.
In February, Ferro orchestrated the sale of the Los Angeles Times to a billionaire entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong. The deal, expected to close soon, may bring an end to a period of heightened tensions in a newsroom that recently voted to unionize.

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2018/03/michael-ferro-exits-tronc-board-sexual-harassment-claims-1202346491/