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Speculation about Singleton's exit strategy

A Southern California newspaper report speculates that Hearst Corp. is positioning itself to take over MediaNews when its chief executive, Dean Singleton, retires.

That would mean nearly all of the Bay Area’s daily newspapers would be acquired by Hearst, owner of the Chronicle. Singleton’s MediaNews has owned the Oakland Tribune, San Mateo County Times, Marin Independent Journal and five other dailies for several years. In August, MediaNews acquired the region’s former Knight Ridder papers including the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times.

The speculation appears in the last two paragraphs of a story in the Torrence Daily Breeze about that paper’s sale to Hearst for $25 million. Hearst’s plan is to have MediaNews operate the Breeze and, eventually, sell the paper to MediaNews.

MediaNews has given Hearst a 30 percent stake in its non-Bay Area assets, valued at $300 million. In return, Hearst bought the Monterey Herald and St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press, and turned those papers over to MediaNews.

San Francisco businessman Clint Reilly is challenging the MediaNews-Hearst deal in court on antitrust grounds. A trial is set for April.

The Daily Breeze ended its story with these paragraphs:

The 55-year-old Singleton (DOB 8-1-51) hasn’t revealed his retirement plans publicly, but the Columbia Journalism Review said this in 2003:

And the New York Times wrote this about him in May, after the news broke that he would be acquiring the Mercury News and Contra Costa Times:

(Photo by George Frey for the New York Times.)

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