Guardian Media Group is the latest potential bidder to enter the race to buy Regional Independent Media.
RIM is already the subject of interest from media group Gannett, which owns Newsquest, and from Johnston Press.
All three groups have had to declare their interest to trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers, who will make a decision in September on whether a sale would be allowed under competition regulations.
The acquisition of newspaper assets is automatically referred if a company has paid-for circulation of 500,000 or more.
GMG, which already owns regional newspaper titles including the Manchester Evening News, has now made its own application to Mr Byers.
RIM is one of Britain’s largest remaining independent regional newspaper groups.
A report in The Guardian, which is owned by Guardian Media Group, suggested RIM could now be worth £500m to £650m.
GMG also owns The Observer, Manchester Evening News, Manchester Metro News, City Life and Manchesteronline. It has more than 40 other paid-for and free titles.
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