U-T San Diego may be close to buying the Orange County Register, a purchase that could put new U-T owner Doug Manchester at the helm of a sprawling Southland media enterprise.
U-T Chief Executive John Lynch confirmed that the company has “had discussions” with Irvine-based Freedom Communications, which owns the Register. But he stopped short of saying that a definite deal is nearing, as several recent reports have suggested.
“Nothing is certain as we attempt to expand our holding in L.A. and O.C.,” Lynch wrote in an e-mail.
He indicated as much Tuesday in a speech to the Downtown San Diego Lions Club, according to George Saadeh, who introduced Lynch before his address.
“He made a presentation about where they’re heading in their future endeavors,” said Saadeh, who owns Wurts Interiors in San Diego. “There are negotiations going on to purchase the newspaper.”
But Saadeh, who said he’s been friends with Lynch for four decades, said he couldn’t be sure that the talks were anywhere near an end.
“As far as whether they’re definitely purchasing, writing a check … none of that was discussed,” Saadeh said.
Bob Emmers, a spokesman for Freedom, said the company “doesn’t comment on rumors and speculation.”
Manchester, a local hotel magnate, was unavailable for comment. He bought the paper, formerly known as the San Diego Union-Tribune, from Platinum Equity in December for $110 million.
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