Tronc Chairman Pushed Out By Sex Scandal

Media company Tronc, Inc. (TRNC) said Monday that Michael Ferro has stepped down as chairman of its board of directors. The company named Chief Executive Justin Dearborn as chairman of the board.

Tronc noted that Ferro, its largest shareholder, is retiring from the board as the company prepares to close on the $500 million sale of its flagship newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, to local ownership.

“In recent weeks, Ferro has discussed with his fellow board members and the management team his desire to retire as chairman in connection with the closing of the Times transaction,” Tronc said.

However, Ferro stepped down just hours before the publication of a media report that accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior toward two women while serving as head of a Chicago investment firm in his previous role. Ferro has been chairman of Tronc’s board since February 2016.

Fortune magazine reported that Ferro, then-chairman of investment firm Wrapports, engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior in September 2013 towards Kathryn Minshew, the CEO and co-founder of the The Muse, a career-advice startup.

According to the report, Ferro had promised to invest more in the starup. Minshew reportedly said that Ferro forcefully kissed her after signing a $750,000 capital infusion term sheet for The Muse at his corporate apartment in downtown Chicago.

Hagan Kappler, then an executive at manufacturing giant Ingersoll Rand, found herself in a similar position in Ferro’s Las Vegas hotel suite at what she thought would be a meeting with Ferro to discuss thermostats during the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. At that time, Ferro had just sold his healthcare startup to IBM.

However, Tronc spokeswoman Marisa Kollias said there have been no claims of sexual harassment filed against Ferro since he became chairman and the largest shareholder of the company in February 2016.

“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,” Kollias said.

by RTT Staff Writer

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