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The bids are in, and the bankruptcy auction is now on. Who will the board of newspaper company McClatchy choose as its new owner? It faces a July 8 court-imposed deadline to pick.

All lips are sealed, publicly, but numerous sources tell me that, as of today, there are three bidders for the 30-newspaper chain.

We know two of them, and they’re familiar names to those who’ve watched the news industry’s conquest by hedge funds and private equity. And the list doesn’t include the knight-in-shining-armor many had hoped would turn McClatchy into the country’s first nonprofit newspaper chain.

As we’ve known for months, Chatham Asset Management, both McClatchy’s leading investor and leading debtholder, is among them — and still the likeliest to become the company’s new operator by the end of July.

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