The U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division today (July 31) approved the sale of the Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Monterey Hearld and St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press to MediaNews Group in a $1 billion deal partially financed by the Hearst Corp., according to the AP and Reuters.
“After a careful investigation…the antitrust division determined that the transaction if not likely to reduce competition substantially,” the Justice Department said in a statement. McClatchy Co., owner of the Sacramento Bee, bought Knight Ridder on June 27 and wanted to sell the four papers to MediaNews at that time, but the deal was delayed by the inquiry by the Antitrust Division. Today’s approval clears the way for the sales to close.
The AP points out that as the review dragged on, McClatchy was left in the awkward position of owning four papers that it didn’t want. That situation threatened to become particularly thorny at Mercury News, where labor contracts with about 600 workers expired June 30. The Justice Department’s blessing came on the same day that MediaNews’ financing for the deal was set to expire. MediaNews, which lost money in the most recent quarter, warned it might incur more than $20 million in additional expenses if its financing package unraveled, AP reported.
- MediaNews Group’s dailies in the Bay Area: Marin Independent Journal, Oakland Tribune, San Mateo County Times, Fremont Argus, Hayward Daily Review, Vacaville Reporter, Vallejo Times-Herald, Pleasanton Tri-Valley Herald
Bay Area dailies MediaNews Group will buy: San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Monterey Herald, Palo Alto Daily News (and its sister “Daily News” publications in San Mateo, Redwood City, Burlingame, Los Gatos and Berkeley).
Bay Area dailies not owned by MediaNews Group: San Francisco Chronicle, Gilroy Dispatch, Santa Cruz Sentinel, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Daily, San Mateo Daily Journal (list doesn’t include Chinese dailies or legal newspapers).