In a meeting on June 16 in San Francisco, the board of directors of Chronicle Publishing Company voted unanimously to put its assets up for sale. Investment bankers Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, which has been evaluating the market position of the company's various media holdings over the past month (News, June 14), has been "authorized to explore all potential buyers and transactions on behalf of the board," according to a statement released immediately after the meeting.
The company, which was founded in 1865 by Charles and Michael de Young, is still privately held. Today it has, in addition to the original San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, Chronicle Books (founded in 1968); Wisconsin-based MBI, a large publisher and distributor of transportation books (acquired by Chronicle in 1988); three television stations; a newspaper in Massachusetts and one in Illinois; a local cable news channel; and SFGate.com.
According to Chronicle Books publisher Jack Jensen, all the company's assets will be treated equally as the investment banker evaluates potential buyers. "We take justifiable pride in our current status and recent success," he told PW, "and are certain there will be interest in our company."
Hearst, which owns the San Francisco Examiner, is considered a likely suitor for the newspaper and television properties. The two newspapers publish under a joint operating agreement. Analysts estimated that the Chronicle properties could bring $2 billion if sold in pieces. Possible suitors for Chronicle Books are Holtzbrinck and the Perseus Group.