*San Diego Union-Tribune sold to local real estate developer

New owner is Doug Manchester, who has been pushing to remake the San Diego waterfront and is in the process of building the two-towered Manchester Grand Hyatt and a nearby Marriott. He also was a major supporter of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California. Manchester is being joined by radio executive John Lynch, who is CEO of Manchester's company (another radio guy - that's not a great sign). "We believe San Diego is the finest city in America and pledge to be strong advocates for the city's interests and conscientious caretakers of the Union-Tribune and its legacy," Manchester said in a statement. Seller is Beverly Hills-based Platinum Equity, a private equity firm that bought the paper in 2009 and has been making numerous changes - what many have speculated were preparations to sell the property. From Voice of San Diego earlier this month:

If Manchester bought the newspaper outright, he'd get a key piece of property that local real estate analysts have said was a valuable part of the Union-Tribune's 2009 sale to Platinum: The company's main building, which sits on 13 acres in Mission Valley, just south of the Fashion Valley mall.

This does not come as a huge surprise: The Union-Tribune announced in July that it had hired an investment firm to explore options for the paper's future. The same firm, Evercore Partners, helped broker the 2009 sale to Platinum Equity. Here's the press release.

*The San Diego Reader is already raising questions. Perhaps it's just a coincidence, but...

Today, at the top of its front page, the U-T features a large color graphic with five yellow stars, touting the Grand Del Mar resort as the "the first in the county to receive Forbes Travel Guide's top rating." A glowing story inside says the designation, "puts the Grand Del Mar in the same league as the esteemed Beverly Hills Hotel and the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco." Manager Tom Voss is quoted as saying nice things about his staff. But one seemingly important detail is missing: the resort was developed and is run by Manchester Financial Group, Doug Manchester's holding company, whose website features a smiling portrait of him and top executives, including Voss.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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