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Hearst offered Chron to Singleton in 2005

With Hearst Corp. warning that it will sell the Chronicle or close it if it cannot get concessions from unions, the question naturally arises, “Who wants to buy it?”

In 2005, Hearst offered the Chron to Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group, but MediaNews wasn’t willing to pay enough.

That’s according to documents filed in the federal antitrust suit San Francisco businessman Clint Reilly brought against the two newspaper companies. Bruce Brugmann’s Bay Guardian and the non-profit Media Alliance sued to have the documents released. (See our Feb. 1, 2007 posting.)

The discussion of a possible sale to MediaNews came in a deposition of James Asher, then Hearst’s chief legal and business development officer. He said Hearst offered the paper to Singleton, but they couldn’t come to an agreement on the price. So, when Singleton bought the San Jose Mercury News and other Knight Ridder properties in the Bay Area in August 2006, the Chronicle agreed to put up $263.2 million to buy the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press and Monterey County Herald and conveyed them to MediaNews in exchange for a 30 percent stake in MediaNews’ non-Bay Area properties.

On Wednesday, E&P’s Joe Strupp asked Singleton if he was still interested in the Chron. “We’ll just watch it play out,” Singleton said. “I am not going to speculate on what could happen. It would be futile to speculate on the future.”

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