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McClatchy, Owner of Miami Herald and Sacramento Bee, Files for Bankruptcy

The company sought a federal bailout in recent months

McClatchy Co., the fifth-largest newspaper company in the U.S. by circulation according to Statista, filed for bankruptcy Thursday, the company announced.

According to the company — which publishes dozens of newspapers across the country, including the Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee, Kansas City Star, Idaho Statesman, Fresno Bee and Charlotte Observer — this is “a move that will end family control of America’s second-largest local news company and hand it to creditors who have expressed support for independent journalism.” The filing will also, it says, ” allow McClatchy to restructure its debts and, it hopes, shed much of its pension obligations.”

If the court accepts the plan submitted Thursday, McClatchy would be operated by hedge fund Chatham Asset Management LLC as a previously held company. The announcement notes that more than 7 million shares of publicly available and protected family-owned stock would be canceled.

“While this is obviously a sad milestone after 163 years of family control, McClatchy remains a strong operating company and committed to essential local news and information,” said chairman Kevin McClatchy in a public statement. “While we tried hard to avoid this step, there’s no question that the scale of our 75-year-old pension plan – with 10 pensioners for every single active employee – is a reflection of another economic era.”

In November 2019, McClatchy announced it was looking for a bailout of its pension fund.

In reporting its third-quarter results at that time, McClatchy  said it is “negotiating capital and pension restructuring with PBGC and key stakeholders.”

McClatchy was in talks with the federal government about possibly taking over its pension fund as it was unable to make a $124 million contribution due through 2020.