Hedge fund could bid for Hudson News wholesale operation

Could Anthony Melchiorre’s Chatham Asset Management be readying a bid to buy out Jimmy Cohen’s Hudson News magazine wholesale distribution business?

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens in the third or fourth quarter,” said one veteran of the magazine circulation wars. Indeed, two industry execs believe the deal will get done.

This week, Chatham-backed American News Co. bought out struggling national wholesaler Curtis Circulation. But sources think the dealmaking and consolidation by the secretive hedge fund boss is far from over.

If the deal were to go through, Chatham would snap up an estimated 95 percent of the wholesale distribution market. American News Co. has 70 percent of the national market, while Hudson News holds 25 percent, primarily in the Northeast.

Chatham and Cohen did not return calls seeking comment.

Cohen agreed to buy a second Chatham trophy asset, the National Enquirer, for $110 million in mid-April.

Despite frequent press mentions that the deal was concluded, it has not been finalized — and probably won’t be until the end of the summer, said one source with knowledge of the deal. The Enquirer is owned through Chatham-owned American Media Inc.

And more than one industry veteran thinks the Enquirer has all the earmarks of “parked transaction,” with Cohen the newsstand king helping out an old pal, David Pecker, the CEO of AMI, who guided the embattled National Enquirer and other celebrity magazines from Us Weekly to OK!

In fact, insiders say Chatham dearly wants to unload the Enquirer, which drew federal scrutiny for its role in paying hush money to two women who, in the run-up to the 2016 election, claimed long-ago flings with Donald Trump.

In a new sign of potential trouble, the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a measure to issue subpoenas to a dozen present and former associates of Trump, and the list could reportedly expand to include Pecker and AMI Editorial Director Dylan Howard.

Pecker was a longtime pal of Trump’s, though the relationship is believed to have cooled when Pecker turned into a cooperating witness for the feds.

AMI declined to comment.

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