New York—McClatchy Co. turned in the top bid for Knight Ridder with an offer worth more than $4.8 billion, it was widely reported Friday.
McClatchy bested an offer from a group of private equity firms, including the Texas Pacific Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners, for about $4.7 billion, according to The New York Times.
A third group, made up of the publishing company MediaNews, several private equity firms and possibly newspaper chain Gannett Co., may be still be interested in Knight Ridder, the Times reported.
Knight Ridder, the second-largest newspaper chain in the country, owns 32 newspapers, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Miami Herald. It has been on the auction block since November.
McClatchy publishes 12 dailies, including the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., and the Sacramento Bee.
Despite declining ad revenues among major newspaper companies, Knight Ridder’s overall profit margin in 2004 was 19%, according to the Times. Knight Ridder has several strong Web sites and also owns CareerBuilder.com, a popular Web site that it owns with Gannett and Tribune Co.