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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

PERS buys Oregonian-Blazers from Newhouse

Media experts, NBA anticipate seamless transition
Oregon to Newhouse IV: Nice knowin' ya!

What a difference a day makes. Barely 24 hours after spending $450 million out of his own pocket to buy the Portland Trail Blazers from Paul Allen, rookie publisher-owner of The Oregonian Si Newhouse IV announced that he has sold the combined properties for $1.95 billion.

The new owner is PERS-TPG, a joint venture of Oregon's gold-plated government employee retirement fund and the gigantic private equity firm formerly known as Texas Pacific Group. PERS became a 10% owner of TPG in a deal announced last month. Thus Oregon's 157-year old newspaper that has enjoyed a statewide monopoly for 47 years has finally landed in the hands of the state's powerful government unions, known as the 800-lb. gorilla of Oregon politics.

In a one-page news release, PERS-TPG announced that former editor Sandra Mims Rowe had accepted a generous buy-out package and is already out-of-state, back in Virginia. Longtime political activist and former Willamette Week advocacy journalist-reporter Patty Wentz has been named the new editor.

A media and sports expert close to the negotiations, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the newspaper has been renamed Our Oregonian and will continue as a model of "third-way journalism" under the leadership of new chairman of the board Andy Stern, president of the national SEIU government employee union. The source indicated there would be no change in editorial content, citing not only the importance of continuity in management but also the government unions' resounding success in the 2006 election campaigns.

Newhouse IV's plans in the area have been scaled back. He will rent a furnished penthouse condominium in Portland's emerging SoWhat district owned by a speculative out-of-state investor from California, and will remain with the new organization under a non-compete consulting agreement up to the June 28 NBA draft. Then, he will receive a big golden parachute and pack up out-of-state, returning to the familiar late-night Manhattan lifestyle of his native New York City.

The Oregonian, May 30, By HELEN JUNG

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