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Hearst to Sell San Francisco Examiner
to Free Newspaper Publisher

By Michael Warren   Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — 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.

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