CHICAGO — Michael Ferro, majority owner of the Chicago Sun-Times, has become the largest shareholder in Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, parent company of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other major daily newspapers.

Tribune Publishing sold more than 5.2 million shares of newly issued common stock to Merrick Media, a Chicago-based investment firm controlled by Ferro, in a $44.4 million deal announced Thursday.

The purchase gives Ferro, a technology entrepreneur and nascent media baron, a nearly 17 percent stake in Tribune Publishing and a big say in the newspaper company’s direction as it navigates its digital future. Ferro, 49, will become nonexecutive chairman of Tribune Publishing’s board.

“I am excited to be working with the company’s award-winning brands,” Ferro said in a statement. “I see tremendous upside to create value and put Tribune Publishing at the forefront of technology and content to benefit journalists and shareholders.”