- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — An investment firm working with a union of newspaper employees plans to submit a bid for all 12 newspapers that the McClatchy Co. is selling as part of its acquisition of Knight Ridder Inc., an adviser for the firm said yesterday.

The Yucaipa Cos., an investment firm run by California billionaire Ron Burkle, will make a bid for all 12 papers, which include the San Jose Mercury News, the Akron Beacon Journal in Ohio and the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota, the adviser, Robert Hall, said.

Mr. Hall is a former publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, two of the papers that McClatchy plans to sell. McClatchy said the 12 papers do not meet its investment criteria, which require that newspapers be located in rapidly growing cities.

Yucaipa has been working with the Newspaper Guild-Communication Workers of America, which represents employees at most of the 12 papers being sold. Yucaipa also has put together deals in the supermarket business.

Mr. Hall declined to say how much the group might bid for the papers. Analysts have estimated that McClatchy could get at least $1.4 billion for them.

Other parties are also thought to be interested in several of the papers, including industry leader Gannett Co. and MediaNews Group Inc., a privately held publishing company based in Denver. Gannett declined to comment, and MediaNews did not return a call seeking comment.

McClatchy said this week there has been high interest in the newspapers, and that it was likely the 12 papers would be bought by different parties. McClatchy declined to comment on Yucaipa’s interest.

McClatchy plans to keep 20 of Knight Ridder’s 32 newspapers as part of its deal to acquire the San Jose, Calif.-based company for $4.5 billion in cash and stock, plus about $2 billion in assumed debt.

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