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Star Tribune publisher Harte spurned in attempt to buy Texas paper

As he prepares to leave the bankrupt Minneapolis paper, Harte won’t get a chance to take over a profitable one.
By David Brauer

Star Tribune publisher Chris Harte — slated to leave that position later this year when the paper emerges from bankruptcy — won’t get a chance to take over his hometown Austin, Texas daily.

Austin American-Statesman publisher Michael Vivio announced today that Cox Enterprises would keep control of the title. The paper has been on the blocks for almost a year; Harte had been part of a consortium with former Statesman editor Rich Oppel and the city’s former mayor, Roy Butler.

Vivio told the paper’s reporters that “Cox Enterprises said from the beginning that it would not preside over a fire sale. This is a profitable company, and it just did not make sense to sell it for the prices offered.”

A quick glance at the American-Stateman’s home page shows a lot of happy employees; have they been talking to their Minneapolis cohorts?

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Harte’s 4 percent stake in the Strib was wiped out in bankruptcy, resulting in an estimated $4 million loss. He has not drawn a salary as Strib publisher, though he received $64,855 for living costs and expense reimbursements in 2008.