Everybody knows Knight Ridder is “over,” as a former executive recently put it to me. But what does that mean to “TKG,” Tribune, Knight Ridder and Gannett’s joint venture to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into CareerBuilder, a successful recruitment portal; ShopLocal, a fast-growing but jury’s still-out online inserts and sales portal; and Topix, an online news sorter that is cutting edge but commercially undeveloped.
Also at stake, but more peripherally, are Knight Ridder’s 1/6 role in Classified Ventures, which produces Cars.com, Homescape and apartments.com, and recently purchased HomeGain. It also holds a minority share in Tribe Nets, a social network that is experimenting with games but is a probable write-off.
If Knight Ridder is sold, TKG has change of control provisions in place that could provide allow the other partners to buy CareerBuilder and the other online properties under their market value. If Gannett is the buyer, it would be a relatively seamless change, although Gannett would become a very dominant part of the consortia, to the discomfort of Tribune. If McClatchy is the buyer or a venture firm, it isn’t as clear. One assumes that McClatchy or other buyers would maintain the CareerBuilder affiliation, but might not participate as partners.