Interest in Philly Papers Grows, As Visitation Week Begins

By: E&P Staff

It should be a busy week around Knight Ridder’s two Phildelphia dailies this week, with four potential groups of bidders, in the wake of the McClatchy Co. deal, coming for a visit.

A group of Canadian investors has joined the list of potential bidders for The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News, Joseph N. DiStefano, who has been on top of the story from the beginning, writes today in the Inquirer.

“Representatives of Onex Corp., a publicly-traded Toronto investment firm, and Black Press, a small newspaper chain based in the Canadian Pacific city of Victoria, are among at least four groups of bidders who are scheduled to visit the Philadelphia papers this week as they prepare final bids for the papers, according to people familiar with the group,” DiStefano reveals.

“Onex chairman Gerald Schwartz, who formerly ran what is now the CanWest Global Communications newspaper chain in Canada, and Black owner David Black were not immediately available for comment.

“Scheduled visitors to the papers’ Broad Street offices today include partners from Avista Capital Holdings LP, a private-equity firm in New York. Christopher M. Harte, a former Knight Ridder Inc. executive who is part of the group, was not expected to join the visitors, according to people familiar with the bid.”

“Representatives of at least two additional groups – Yucaipa Cos. of Los Angeles, whose offer is backed by the Newspaper Guild labor union; and a Philadelphia investors’ group headed by Brian P. Tierney and Bruce E. Toll – have been reviewing financial data for the Philadelphia papers since investment bankers for McClatchy Co. opened the books to them in the week before Easter.

There may be other bidders as well, although MediaNews Group may be out of it, balking at the price. People familiar with the sale “say they expect it could be at least two weeks until McClatchy announces the likely new owners of the Philadelphia papers,” DiStefano reports.

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