The publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News is seeking to buy the newspaper from the heirs of Jack Kent Cooke following the death of the publishing and sports magnate last month, according to an associate.
Larry Beasley, who was named publisher in 1994 and is credited with engineering a financial turnaround at the newspaper by cutting costs, is believed to be searching for investors to help acquire the Woodland Hills-based paper.
“I’m aware that Larry is interested (in buying the Daily News), and I know that several people are interested in going in with him,” said David Fleming, an attorney with the Universal City office of Latham & Watkins and prominent Valley business leader.
Fleming, who has worked closely with Beasley in the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley and other groups, declined to identify potential investors.
If Beasley is successful in raising the necessary funding to buy the paper, he could well find himself bidding against newspaper mogul William Dean Singleton, who also is believed to be interested in the Daily News.
Neither Beasley nor Singleton returned calls from the Business Journal.
The terms of Cooke’s will are unknown, but analysts believe that he left the majority of his assets Forbes estimated his net worth at $825 million to his family. Cooke is survived by his fourth wife, Marlena, daughter Jacqueline and son John Kent Cooke, Sr. A second son, Ralph Kent Cooke, died in 1995.
Because the paper is privately held, its profitability has always been something of a mystery. In a recent staff meeting, Editor David Butler indicated that advertising revenues were below expectations and that the paper was bracing for another increase in newsprint prices.
At the same time, officials at the paper have indicated privately that the Daily News is realizing respectable profits after cost-cutting implemented by Beasley.
Singleton’s Denver-based MediaNews Group bought the Thomson L.A. News Group in West Covina last fall, which is why analysts believe he is interested in the Daily News.
Analysts point to Singleton because his Thomson group, which publishes the 57,500-circulation San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the 42,500-circulation Pasadena Star-News and the 19,000-circulation Whittier Daily News, could realize operating efficiencies by combining with the Daily News.