Kkr May Snap Up Murdoch's U.S. Mags

Rupert Murdoch's auction of his U. S. magazines is nearing an end. Industry sources say K-III, a publishing venture backed by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, is the leading contender for the magazine group, whose nine titles include New York, Premiere, and Soap Opera Digest. TV Guide, for which Murdoch paid $3 billion, is not part of the package. K-III's offer of about $500 million tops a previous bid by Reed International's Cahners Publishing.

Other media companies including Hearst had expressed interest in one or more of the magazines. But K-III is said to be the only bidder with a firm offer for all nine. Murdoch is trying to sell magazines and other holdings to pay down $8.2 billion in debt run up by his News Corp.

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