By Steve Tawa

WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) — After hearing days of testimony, a Delaware judge will now decide the format of an auction to sell off the company that owns Philadelphia’s two mass-circulation daily newspapers.

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It’s part of on ongoing power struggle by the estranged co-owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.

Meanwhile, in the midst of closing arguments, the union representing reporters, photographers, and others at the two newspapers, announced it was dropping out as a potential bidder for the papers.

The Newspaper Guild said that after looking at the books and comparing notes with a representative of philanthropist Raymond Perelman — the Guild’s primary benefactor — they determined the minimum bid, or “floor,” established by other feuding owners was too much.

Both Lewis Katz and George Norcross — who each heads up a rival faction of co-owners — have each promised to put up at least $77 million if they are the winning bidder.

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The Norcross group wants a closed auction, limited to current owners, with alternating bids in $1-million increments. Katz’s group wants a public auction, open to anyone, with a single, sealed bid from each hopeful.

Delaware judge Donald Parsons told both parties he would be unhappy if he was forced to get involved with the issue of editor Bill Marimow’s tenure before he decides the format of the auction.

Marimow’s contract expires next week.  The Norcross side previously sought to fire him but a Philadelphia judge ordered Marimow reinstated at the request of the Katz camp, touching off this power struggle.


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