MINNEAPOLIS — Cowles Media Co., parent company of the Star Tribune, has been purchased by McClatchy Newspapers, owner of the Sacramento Bee, the company announced Thursday.
The Star Tribune is Minnesota's largest newspaper, with a daily circulation of about 387,000 and Sunday circulation of 669,000. It is by far Cowles' most valuable property.
The McClatchy group also owns the Anchorage Daily News, Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee.
In a news release, Cowles Media said the purchase price was $1.4 billion in cash and stock, or about $90.50 a share. When Cowles made its initial announcement, analysts estimated the company could bring between $1 billion and $1.3 billion.
McClatchy said it plans to sell off the three non-newspaper divisions of Cowles. The deal is not expected to close for several months.
Cowles Media announced Sept. 4 that it was reviewing ownership options at the request of the Cowles Family Voting Trust, which owned about 56% of the company's voting shares.
The Cowles family has controlled the Star Tribune--one of the last family-run daily newspapers in the country--and related properties since 1935.
Cowles Media earned $29.5 million, or $2.13 per share, in fiscal 1997 on revenue of $517 million. First-half earnings for fiscal 1998 were up 62% to $21.6 million, or $1.53 a share, compared with $13.4 million, or 96 cents a share, a year earlier.