updated 1/31/2005 8:09:07 AM ET 2005-01-31T13:09:07

Pulitzer Inc., which publishes the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Arizona Daily Star and a dozen other daily newspapers, has been bought by Lee Enterprises Inc. in a $1.46 billion deal that creates the nation's fourth-largest newspaper publisher.

Michael E. Pulitzer, grandson of the founder and chairman of the Pulitzer board of directors, said the sale to Lee, announced Sunday, was in the best interests of Pulitzer's shareholders.

"Lee and Pulitzer share similar cultures and values, beginning with our long history in, and passion for, the newspaper business," he said.

Lee, which operates 44 daily newspapers in 19 states, will pay $64 per share in cash for all of Pulitzer's holdings, which include 14 daily newspapers and more than 100 weekly newspapers, shoppers, and niche publications.

In November, Pulitzer said it was considering a possible sale or other options to increase shareholder value. The purchase is a continuation of Lee's long-term strategies, said Mary Junck, chairman and chief executive officer of Lee.

"The acquisition of Pulitzer allows us to take an exciting and logical next step into another exceptionally attractive group of markets, exactly the kind where we excel as an industry leader in building revenue and circulation," she said.

The acquisition will make the Lee company fourth in numbers of U.S. daily newspapers and seventh in circulation with 58 daily newspapers in 23 states and a circulation of 1.7 million daily and 2 million on Sundays, the company said.

Other Pulitzer newspapers that were sold include the The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.; The Daily Herald, Provo, Utah; the Santa Maria Times, Santa Maria, Calif.; The Napa Valley Register, Napa, Calif.; The World, Coos Bay, Ore.; The Sentinel, Hanford, Calif.; the Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff, Ariz.; the Daily Chronicle, DeKalb, Ill.; The Garden Island, Lihue, Hawaii; the Daily Journal, Park Hills, Mo.; The Lompoc Record, Lompoc, Calif.; and The Daily News, Rhinelander, Wis.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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