Federal Judge Clears Way for McCartheys to Regain Tribune

Federal Judge Clears Way for McCartheys to Regain Tribune

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A federal judge on Wednesday cleared the way for former owners of The Salt Lake Tribune to buy back the newspaper.

U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart ordered MediaNews Group Inc. to offer the paper to a group headed by Phil McCarthey, whose family insisted it held an ironclad agreement to recover ownership of Utah's largest newspaper after merging it with another company.

MediaNews chief executive Dean Singleton doubted the McCartheys could afford to buy back the newspaper for a disputed appraisal of $355 million. MediaNews bought the paper for $200 million in January 2001 from its latest in a series of corporate owners, AT&T Corp.

Stewart ruled from the bench Wednesday, affirming a federal appeals court decision that said the McCarthey group can buy back virtually all of the Tribune assets except for its share of stock in a joint-operating agency shared with Salt Lake City's other daily, Deseret Morning News.

Wednesday's ruling nullified the Deseret Morning News' disputed veto of the McCarthey family's bid to regain control of the Tribune.

While Stewart ordered MediaNews to show up at a closing, Singleton said the company still can refuse to sell the paper for any price. That would push off any sale until after a jury trial scheduled for November.

Stewart said the jury would decide whether to force the sale or award the McCartheys damages from MediaNews' refusal.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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