MANILA - (2nd UPDATE) The Philippine Daily Inquirer said Monday tycoon Ramon Ang was in talks to buy a majority stake in the newspaper from the Prieto family.
The Prietos will divest from the Inquirer after 25 years to "maximize growth opportunities," according to statement from the Inquirer Group of Companies.
President Rodrigo Duterte had publicly criticized the Prietos for allegedly not paying taxes for Mile Long, a government property in Makati City being leased to the Prieto family.
A due diligence review by Ang will be done soon, according to the statement.
"The (Prieto) family is confident that Mr. Ang will uphold the Inquirer Group's commitment to pursuing the highest standards of journalism," the Inquirer group said.
"His investments and business expertise will unlock added value in the Inquirer Group's newspaper publication, internet communications, social media, corporate skills training, radio broadcasting and logistics delivery," it added.
Ang said he accepted the "offer" of the Prieto family to invest in the Inquirer.
"I am looking forward to be part of this venerable institution and work with the men and women who made it what it is now. The publication will continue to uphold the highest journalistic standards and make a difference in the society it serves," he said.
The acquisition gives the San Miguel Corp president a foothold in print media, enabling him to go head-to-head with rival Manuel Pangilinan, who has stakes in the Philippine Star and the BusinessWorld.
Ang made a P1-billion downpayment for a 30-percent stake in GMA Network but the deal fell through. He is reportedly a quiet investor in Solar Television, which operates CNN Philippines and several other cable channels.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer was founded in 1985 and rose to prominence the following year, after a bloodless popular revolt toppled the Marcos dictatorship.
It has drawn the ire of some incumbent presidents over its corruption exposes. Sympathizers of former president Joseph Estrada, for instance, led an advertising boycott on the paper before he was ousted in January 2001.
Duterte has also criticized the Inquirer for running reports on his alleged secret bank accounts during the 2016 campaign, based on documents released by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, as well as Inquirer's critical pieces on Duterte's bloody war on drugs.
The three-decade old publication recently embarked on a digital shift as advertising revenues decline, adopting a more photo-heavy layout.