APNewsBreak: Perelman Denied Bid On Pa. Newspapers

MARYCLAIRE DALE

PHILADELPHIA (AP) â¿¿ Philanthropist Raymond Perelman says he has been "excluded" from the sale of The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News days after former Gov. Ed Rendell and others announced a play for the company that owns them.

Perelman urged the company, Philadelphia Media Network, to conduct a fair and open sale of its assets. He said in a letter to the company's board he was "dismayed" to learn he and others were excluded from the process.

He sent the letter Wednesday, a day after a journalists' union, the Newspaper Guild, met with managers of the newspapers' owner to complain that two stories this week about another potential bidder, developer Bart Blatstein, had been censored.

"Nothing is more important to me than continuing the strong tradition of journalistic integrity in our local papers and making sure the Inquirer and Daily News are preserved for the people for generations to come," Perelman said in his letter, which The Associated Press obtained Thursday.

Perelman was told the bidding is closed and was denied the customary chance to review the company's financial books, according to a person familiar with Perelman's effort but not authorized to speak for him. That person talked Thursday to the AP on the condition of anonymity.

The company had no comment on the Perelman letter, spokesman Mark Block said.

Rendell's team of investors includes Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider, New Jersey Democratic powerbroker George Norcross and others. Rendell, a Democrat, told reporters on Feb. 3 that the group had submitted a non-binding letter of interest a day earlier. He called it a civic-minded group with deep pockets that did not need to turn a quick profit on the venture.

Rendell declined to comment Thursday on the sale process.

The presumed sale of the city's two largest dailies comes less than 18 months after hedge funds paid $139 million to top Perelman at a bankruptcy auction. Perelman and his son, billionaire Revlon Inc. chairman Ronald Perelman, bid at least $85 million in cash.

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