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Lee Enterprises Inc., the publisher of The Daily Herald in Provo, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and more than 40 other daily newspapers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday as part of a previously announced refinancing plan.

Lee made a prepackaged filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., In such cases, a company reaches agreements with most lenders ahead of time, allowing it to emerge from Chapter 11 quickly. Lee said it already had support from lenders and note holders holding more than 95 percent of its debt. The filing is designed to force the remaining lenders to go along with its plan.

Lee, based in Davenport, Iowa, has said it expects to emerge from the bankruptcy process within 60 days. The company said the filing shouldn't affect employees, suppliers or customers.

The proposed refinancing covers about $1 billion in debt. Most of the money would have been due in April, but the refinancing plan extends the scheduled repayments into 2015 and 2017. Most of Lee's debt is a result of its $1.46 billion acquisition of Pulitzer Inc. in 2005.

The Herald has 30,000 weekday subscribers. Sunday circulation is close to 43,600.