The Hearst Corp. agreed Friday to sell the
flagship of its media empire, the San Francisco Examiner, to a
company led by the publishers of the San Francisco Independent, a
free newspaper published three times a week.
"The Examiner has been part of the history and identity of San
Francisco. We hope to carry on the Examiner's proud tradition of
public service and journalistic excellence," said Ted Fang, who
will be publisher of both the Examiner and the Independent.
The new Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle, which have
been publishing under a joint operating agreement since 1965, will
be published independently following a four-month transition, Fang
said in a statement.
Hearst has been seeking a buyer for the Examiner since Aug. 6,
when it abruptly announced its purchase of the Chronicle for $660
million, preempting any potential bidders for its morning rival as
well as the production equipment the papers shared.
All current employees of the Examiner, the Chronicle and the San Francisco Newspaper Agency, which oversees the JOA, will continue
working for the Hearst Corp., except for those employees who take
positions with the new Examiner, according to the statement from
ExIn LLC, a new company affiliated with the Fang family.
"The deal will preserve both of San Francisco's two daily
newspapers, and allow the city to continue its long tradition of
diversity of editorial voices," the statement said.
Hearst said the investment banker it hired to sell the Examiner,
Veronis Suhler & Associates of New York, had been in contact with
more than 90 prospective buyers.
The decision to sell to the Fang family came after ``a vigorous and protracted sales effort and discussions with regulatory
authorities," Hearst said.
Hearst also cited a lawsuit by Clint Reilly, a failed mayoral
candidate who tried to block Hearst from selling the Examiner or
merging it into the Chronicle. Reilly ultimately offered his own
bid for the paper.
"The Hearst Corporation determined that in order to complete
its purchase of the Chronicle, it was appropriate to facilitate the
continued publication of the Examiner rather than close the
newspaper," the statement from Hearst said.
The purchase of the Chronicle by Hearst will become effective at the same time as its sale of the Examiner, both of which are
expected to close by the end of March.