Monday, November 28, 2005

Trouble at Knight-Ridder?

Regular readers of "The Charlotte World" know that we've written a good bit about the tenure of Peter Ridder as publisher of "The Charlotte Observer," including a notice of his upcoming retirement.

However, now comes word that he is postponing his planned retirement amid what the Associated Press calls "uncertainty about the future of corporate parent Knight Ridder Inc."

Ridder announced in September that he would step down Jan. 1. At that time Knight Ridder named Ann Caulkins, publisher of The (Columbia, S.C.) State as his replacement. But in a letter to Observer employees Nov. 21, Ridder said he is putting off his retirement until the future of the parent company is resolved.

Knight Ridder's largest shareholder, Private Capital Management LP of Naples, Fla., has been agitating for a sale of the company, a call that has been seconded by another large institutional shareholder. Knight Ridder's board said last week it would consider a sale among the “strategic alternatives” aimed at boosting shareholder value. In the letter, Ridder, the brother of Knight Ridder CEO Tony Ridder, said the company asked him to postpone his retirement “until a resolution of the Knight Ridder issue has been finalized.”

More evidence of trouble on South College Street, some insiders are telling me.


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