McClatchy Co. (MNI) said Wednesday it is selling four newspapers to MediaNews Group Inc., publisher of The Denver Post and dozens of other newspapers, for $1 billion in cash.

The deal will strengthen MediaNews's presence in northern California, where it already owns several papers in the San Francisco Bay Area. The complex deal involves financial backing from Hearst Corp.

The four papers — the San Jose Mercury News, the Contra Costa Times, the Monterey County Herald as well as the St. Paul Pioneer Press — are among 12 being sold by McClatchy as it acquires the second-largest newspaper company in the country. McClatchy has said those papers didn't meet its acquisition criteria, which include being located in rapidly growing markets.

The announcement came in a joint press release distributed by the companies.