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The owners of the San Francisco Progress announced Wednesday...

By SUSAN KROHN

SAN FRANCISCO -- The owners of the San Francisco Progress announced Wednesday they sold the newspaper to Illinois businessman William H. Rentschler after turning down 'three buyers who offered more money.'

Publisher M. Marvin Johnson said the acquisition of the paper by Rentschler's Medart Companies was completed Tuesday.

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Another San Francisco newspaper, The Recorder -- published five days a week -- also was sold this week. The city's legal newspaper was sold to Am-Law, a New York-based company that publishes American lawyer magazine.

Rentschler, 61, the new publisher of the Progress, is the chairman of The Medart Companies in Lake Forest, Ill., and the editor and publisher of nine weekly News-Voice newspapers in the Chicago area.

'We turned down three buyers who offered more money for the paper, none of them were from within the state,' Johnson said. 'One was from Oregon and one from Texas.'

Rentschler said 'There is a colossal opportunity here and we're building on a very strong base.'

'We're going to make these papers nationally influential,' Rentschler said, noting that he intends to go 'head-to-head' with the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Progress is published Sunday, Wednesday and Friday and covers San Francisco and northern San Mateo counties. The 220,913 'controlled-circulation, voluntary pay newspaper' was founded in 1918.

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Rentschler would not say what price he paid for the newspaper but he said 'the Progress was the best available newspaper property for its price in the entire U.S.'

The new publisher was Richard Nixon's campaign manager in Illinois in 1968 and an unsuccessful candidate in the Republican Senate primary two years later. In 1973, he was named in a 23-count federal indictment for an alleged bank fraud scheme and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison in 1975.

Rentschler said his time in prison was 'a badge of honor -- an attempt at political assassination that didn't work.'

The Recorder was founded in 1877. It was owned by Recorder Enterprises, which will retain control of two subsidiaries, Recorder Sunset Press and the McCord Co.

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