Whither Knight-Ridder’s Online Properties?

Knight-Ridder’s pending acquisition by McClatchy brings up the question of what will happen to the various joint ventures that KR has with rivals Gannett and Tribune. On a conference call with investors, McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt said he’d very much like to keep the properties, which include Careerbuilder and ShopLocal, but it’s up to the other two partners whether they want to allow McClatchy to assume KR’s stake or buy out McClatchy.

When contacted by ClickZ News, Gannett and Tribune declined to comment other than to say it was too early to know what would happen, and that they’d be looking at their options.

John Blossom, president and senior analyst with Shore Communications, said that the most likely outcome is for Gannett and Tribune to allow McClatchy to take over Knight-Ridder’s stake, for several reasons:
1. They want to stay on McClatchy’s good side so they stay in the running for the K-R properties going on the block.
2. McClatchy brings to the table a good sense of how to control margins while creating a quality product for a growing market.
3. Buying out McClatchy would be counter-productive, since it would cut down on potential distribution alliances and infuse McClatchy with additional cash to consider other alternatives.

“There’s something to be said for keeping your friends close and your enemies close, perhaps,” Blossom said.

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