Billionaire supermarket magnate Ron Burkle has hired the former publisher of Knight Ridder’s Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, Robert Hall, to be his adviser as he attempts to buy several KR newspapers, including those in the Bay Area. McClatchy Co. agreed to buy KR last week, but then announced it would spin off 12 of the chain’s 32 dailies including the San Jose Mercury News, Monterey Herald, Contra Costa Times and Palo Alto Daily News group. Burkle’s investment banking arm, Yucaipa Cos., is financing an effort by the newspaper Guild to buy the papers and then allow some degree of employee ownership. As the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out in today’s edition, “Hall’s move to help Yucaipa puts him on the same side as union leaders who confronted his former management team over the bargaining table during his tenure as the Knight Ridder-appointed head of The Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News from 1990 to 2004.”

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