Gannett Co., the publisher of USA Today and the nation's largest newspaper group, struck a deal to buy the Arizona Republic, the Indianapolis Star and four other daily newspapers from Central Newspapers for $2.6 billion. The sale would end a family journalism dynasty that began with Eugene C. Pulliam, a preacher's son who began delivering newspapers at age 6 and eventually owned dozens of papers. His heirs hold a controlling interest in Phoenix-based Central Newspapers. In a deal announced after the close of trading, Arlington, Va.-based Gannett agreed to pay $64 a share for Central Newspapers stock. On the New York Stock Exchange, Gannett shares rose 88 cents to close at $58.97, and Central Newspapers shares fell 13 cents to close at $64.25. The Republic, Arizona's largest newspaper with an average circulation of 433,000 on weekdays, would be Gannett's largest community newspaper, with about double the circulation of the current community newspaper leader, the Detroit News.
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