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Gannett shares up as Tribune talks merger

Takeover bid launched this week by company with reputation for slashing editorial budgets

By David Wildstein, January 17 2019 11:22 am

Shares of Gannett increased late yesterday following reports that Tribune Publishing is looking to revive merger talks between the two newspaper publishers.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on Sunday that MNF Enterprises, also known as Digital First Media, a hedge fund-backed company with a reputation for slashing newsroom budgets, is mounting a $1.4 billion takeover bid.

Tribune Publishing owns the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News and the Baltimore Sun and is the third-largest U.S. newspaper publisher.  Digital First owns more than 50 daily newspapers, including the Denver Post, Boston Herald and The Trentonian.

Gannett issued a statement early this morning acknowledging that they have received an unsolicited cash offer to sell their company to MNG Enterprises – also known as Digital Media First – but their newspapers have still not reported it.

Dan Sforza, the news director at The (Bergen) Record, one of Gannett’s eight New Jersey daily newspapers, did not immediately respond to a 10:00 AM Monday direct message seeking comment.

Digital Media First has a reputation for dramatic budget cuts, especially on the editorial side, and the prospects of a takeover of Gannett was made with immediate opposition from journalists posting on Twitter last night.

“Bad, bad, bad news,” Ryan Hutchins, the New Jersey bureau chief for POLITICO tweeted last night.”

In addition to The Record, Gannett operates the Asbury Park Press, the Courier News, the Courier-Post, the Home News Tribune, the Daily Record, the Daily Journal, and the Herald News in New Jersey, as well as several weekly newspapers.

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