Following pressure from Democrat politicians including state Controller Steve Westly, the company backing a newspaper Guild bid to buy 12 Knight Ridder newspapers will gain access to detailed financial information about those papers, the Mercury News is reporting today. McClatchy Co., which is in contract to buy the Knight Ridder chain of 32 daily papers for $4.5 billion, is selling 12 of them, including all of KR’s papers in Northern California, in the hopes of raising $1.4 billion to pay down the debt from the sale. Yucaipa Companies, the investment banking firm controlled by billionaire Ron Burkle (pictured), wants to review information about the 12 papers in order to make an informed bid. McClatchy has agreed to allow Yucaipa to see the financial information about the papers “as they come to market,” according to union president Linda Foley, which suggests that McClatchy may be selling the papers in groups or in stages. Burkle, who made billions in leveraged buyouts of supermarket chains, is a Democrat Party fundraiser and the board of his Yucaipa Companies includes Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson. SF Examiner columnist P.J. Corkery reported March 8 that money from the United Arab Emirates will help finance Yucaipa’s bid for KR’s newspapers.

SF Press Club News

One Comment

  1. Singleton can be stopped. It’s not too late.

    If you read between the lines, you’ll see that Singleton hasn’t been able to get his act together to buy the 12 “orphaned” KR papers.

    When the deadline arrived last week, his spokeswoman was saying that the situation was “fluid.” Nobody will say whether or not he even submitted a bid. But then the LA Times came out with a story saying the sale process will take another two months. And yesterday the Merc wrote that Burkle and the Guild will get the due dilligence material at some point. That’s important because the union is the last entity they want to talk with — under ordinary circumstances, the union would never get the financials of a paper where it has a contract — so one can only assume that McClatchy is getting desperate.

    What that means to us in the Bay Area is that Singleton doesn’t yet have a deal — he’s probably trying to coax investors into helping him with is bid. Some spirited public opposition might frighten off those investors.

    It’s not too late to:

    — hold a one-day walkout of unionized workers at the merc, to register their concern over “media consolidation” by Singleton

    — get our local members of congress to hold hearings here in the Bay Area on media consolidation. I’m sure those Democrats don’t want a Republican owning 2/3rds of the area’s newspapers either.

    — some town hall meetings to discusss these issues

    — get our local city councils and county supervisors to pass resolutions urging “newspaper diversity”

    — an expose on Singleton’s strained relations with unions. I understood it took several years for workers at the San Mateo County Times to get a contract because of his tactics.

    If Singleton had the money (or credit) to make this deal happen, it would have been announced by now. McClatchy needs some news like that to bring its stock price back up. But Singleton is having problems cobbling together this deal — so if you oppose his tactics or media consolidation, now is the time to act!

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