The U-T San Diego newspaper is in talks to buy the daily Orange County Register.
U-T Chief Executive John Lynch confirmed that executives at his newspaper, formerly known as the San Diego Union-Tribune, have "had discussions" with Irvine-based Freedom Communications, which owns the Register.
But although several recent reports have suggested that a deal is nearing, Lynch stopped short of saying that.
"Nothing is certain as we attempt to expand our holding in L.A. and O.C.," Lynch wrote in an e-mail.
In a speech this week to the Downtown San Diego Lions, Lynch told the group of the Register talks.
"He made a presentation about where they're heading in their future endeavors," said George Saadeh, a business owner who introduced Lynch at the event. "There are negotiations going on to purchase the newspaper."
Bob Emmers, a spokesman for Freedom, said the company "doesn't comment on rumors and speculation."
U-T owner Doug Manchester was unavailable for comment. The local hotel magnate bought the San Diego paper from Platinum Equity in December for $110 million.