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SEATTLE - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was among a few dozen banks, insurance companies, mutual funds and other entities that loaned $350 million to MediaNews Group Inc. for its purchase of four newspapers from publisher McClatchy Co.
The Gates Foundation - the world's largest philanthropy, with an endowment of about $30 billion - contributed an unspecified amount of money toward the transaction, according to an Aug. 8 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission by Media¬News Group. Others listed as contributors include General Electric Capital Corp. and Blue Shield of California.
Spokeswoman Monica Harrington said she could not confirm how much the foundation had contributed. Jody Lodovic, president of MediaNews, said he did not know the amount but was pleased it had contributed. ''It seems like even new media people understand and believe in the value of traditional media, so we're certainly happy to see them participate,'' Lodovic said.
McClatchy completed its $1 billion sale of the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Monterey County Herald and St. Paul Pioneer Press earlier this month, finishing its disposal of a dozen newspapers picked up in its recent acquisition of Knight Ridder Inc.
Denver-based MediaNews, a privately held company directed by William Dean Singleton, owns the The Salt Lake Tribune and dozens of other papers nationwide. The company bought the Mercury News and Contra Costa Times to establish itself as the largest newspaper publisher in the San Francisco Bay area. Hearst Corp. bought the Monterey and Minnesota papers but is turning both over to MediaNews in exchange for a stake in MediaNews' operations outside the Bay Area.
MediaNews already owns the Oakland Tribune and a cluster of suburban papers in the Bay Area. Its other properties include The Denver Post and The Detroit News.
The Gates Foundation awarded about $1.36 billion in grants last year, much of it for public health initiatives in developing countries. In the United States, its donations focus on education and technology in public libraries.
The foundation's loan to MediaNews is part of a broad investment portfolio designed to fund the endowment. The foundation's assets include more than $4 billion in stock in companies including oil behemoths BP PLC and Exxon Mobil Corp.