updated 8/21/2006 2:11:39 PM ET 2006-08-21T18:11:39

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was among a few dozen banks, insurance companies, mutual funds and others entities that loaned a total of $350 million to MediaNews Group Inc. for its purchase of four newspapers from publisher McClatchy Co.

The Seattle-based Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropy, contributed an unspecified amount of money toward the transaction, according to an Aug. 8 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission by MediaNews Group. Others listed as contributors include General Electric Capital Corp. and Blue Shield of California.

Monica Harrington, a foundation spokeswoman, said she could not confirm how much the foundation contributed to the loan because it does not comment on its investment portfolio. A message left with the foundation’s investment team was not immediately returned on Monday.

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 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.

Privately owned MediaNews already owns the Oakland Tribune and a cluster of suburban papers in the Bay Area. Its other properties include The Denver Post, The Salt Lake Tribune and The Detroit News.

The Gates Foundation typically spends most of its money on global public health issues.

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