Behind-the-scenes details of McClatchy chief executive Gary Pruitt’s successful bid for Knight Ridder were revealed today in a front page story in the McClatchy-owned Sacramento Bee.
Reporter Dale Kasler says that after the bids were opened on March 9, KR’s investment banker asked McClatchy to sweeten its initial bid. The final price of $67.25 a share, or $4.5 billion plus the assumption of $2 billion in debt, took hours of haggling to reach. On Friday, March 10, McClatchy execs celebrated as they flew to New York on the company’s Falcon 200EX jet, listening to Bruce Springsteen, blues legend Leadbelly and others from Pruitt’s music collection.
The deal was finalized Saturday, March 11, in a law office in a W. 57th St. skyscraper known as Black Rock, better known as the headquarters of CBS. McClatchy’s acquisition of KR was announced to the public on Monday, March 13.
Today’s story didn’t shed much more light on why McClatchy is selling the San Jose Mercury News than what has already been reported. Pruitt is quoted as saying he thought he’d keep the Merc until an analysis showed the paper had slim profit margins and slow population growth. As for Tony Ridder’s claim that he was shocked to hear McClatchy was going to sell the Merc, Pruitt said, “We did our best to be forthright with Knight Ridder about divestitures.”