Investor Anschutz to Buy S.F. Examiner
By RON HARRIS
The Associated Press
Thursday, February 19, 2004; 6:46 PM
SAN FRANCISCO - Billionaire investor and Qwest Communications founder Phil Anschutz is buying the once-mighty San Francisco Examiner from the Fang family, the parties announced Thursday.
Financial terms were not disclosed. A source close to the deal said Anschutz is paying $20 million for the paper, which declined in distribution from 303,000 in 1965 to 96,000 when it was sold to Florence Fang and her family by the Hearst Corp. in 2000 for a dollar. The Fangs also received $66.7 million from Hearst to subsidize the newspaper's operation.
The deal was signed Wednesday, according to the source, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Anschutz and his partners also will get The Independent, a profitable neighborhood giveaway paper, as well as Grant Printing Co., where the papers are produced. Publisher Florence Fang retains ownership of the newspaper Asian Week and the Chinese TV Guide.
Anschutz is the majority stockholder and founder of Qwest Communications. His Entertainment Group owns a piece of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Kings and several professional soccer teams. He is the 33rd-richest person in the United States, according to Forbes magazine.
Robert Starzel, a corporate attorney who serves with Anschutz on several boards, becomes chairman of the SF Newspaper Co. Starzel is the son of Frank Starzel, a former general manager of The Associated Press.
Scott McKibben, who had been chief executive of the Examiner's parent company, will stay on as president and publisher of the Examiner and Independent.
Anschutz will become just the fourth owner of the paper made famous by William Randolph Hearst, who took control in 1887.
Hearst established the Examiner as one of the country's most flamboyant papers. It employed some of American literature's best-known names, including Ambrose Bierce, Jack London and Mark Twain. In more recent years, Hunter Thompson worked for the Examiner.
The paper thrived for years until switching to afternoons as part of a profit-sharing agreement with the rival San Francisco Chronicle in 1965.
The profit-sharing arrangement made money for Hearst, but marked the beginning of the Examiner's circulation struggles.
© 2004 The Associated Press