AKRON, Ohio—Parties believed to be interested in bidding on the Akron Beacon Journal weren't tipping their hands as the deadline for bids passed Wednesday.
An executive of Advance Publications of New York, which owns the Cleveland Plain Dealer, declined to end speculation about Advance's role.
"We're just not in a position to comment on speculation," said Robert Woodworth, who is in charge of Advance's operations in the Cleveland area.
When offered the chance to say Advance was pulling out of the bidding, Woodworth declined, referring to his previous statement.
McClatchy Co., based in Sacramento, Calif., is buying the Beacon Journal's parent company, Knight Ridder, in a stock-and- cash deal initially valued at $6.5 billion. As part of the deal announced in March, McClatchy will immediately sell 12 of Knight Ridder's 32 daily newspapers, including the Beacon Journal. McClatchy is selling the 12 because they do not meet the company's criteria for location in fast-growing markets. Sale agreements have been reached for six of the 12 newspapers.
The other newspapers to be sold are the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, the Aberdeen (S.D.) American News, the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times Leader and the Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel.
McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt cited Wednesday as the bid deadline for the remaining newspapers. On Wednesday, Robert Hall, a retired publisher who has signed on as senior adviser to the private equity firm Yucaipa Cos., would not say whether Yucaipa bid for the Beacon Journal or any of the other five newspapers on the auction block.
Yucaipa, based in Los Angeles, is partnered with the News paper Guild in an attempt to buy newspapers and make them employee-owned companies.
Hall cited a nondisclosure agreement that Yucaipa signed with McClatchy. "We're really making no comment," he said.
Two other parties have expressed interest in the Beacon Journal: HM Capital Partners of Dallas and Canada's Black Press Ltd.
HM Capital has "a long-standing policy not to comment on things we may or may not be thinking about," said spokesman Roy Winnick at Kekst & Co. in New York City.
David Black, owner of Black Press, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
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Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
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