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Hostile takeover of Gannett launched

Hedge fund seeks acquisition of 8 New Jersey daily newspapers

By David Wildstein, February 07 2019 5:19 pm

The company that launched a $1.4 billion takeover bid of Gannett is taking their offer directly to the shareholders, nominating six Board of Directors candidates at their annual corporate meeting, according to a press release issued by Gannett.

All six candidates are connected to MNG Enterprises/Digital First Media or hedge fund Alden Global Capital, which is the majority shareholder in the media company.

The date of the shareholder meeting has not yet been set.

Gannett owns a national chain of newspapers, including eight New Jersey dailies: The (Bergen) Record, the Asbury Park Press, the Courier News, the Courier-Post, the Home News Tribune, the Daily Record, the Daily Journal, and the Herald News.

On Monday, the Gannett board rejected Digital First Media’s $1.4 billion purchase offer, saying their $12-per-share bid undervalues their company.

Gannett had signaled on January 14 that they thought the offer was too low.  Shares in the company had increased following the takeover bid but ended Monday at $10.97.  Gannett stock declined by 26% in 2018.

Digital First Media has a history of purchasing struggling newspapers and cutting costs by dramatically reducing the number of journalists.

They claim Gannett has lost a large portion of its value and that their board lacks a credible plan to restore that value and instead is blocking a premium, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Digital First said Gannett has lost a significant amount of its value, its leadership doesn’t have a credible plan to restore that value and it is trying to block a premium deal. It added that it has no impediments to completing the transaction. Gannett’s stock dropped 26% in 2018.

Since Gannett confirmed the takeover plan on January 14, The Record has laid off six more employees.

None of the New Jersey Gannett newspapers have acknowledged the proposed sale to their readers.

Digital First Media owns the Trentonian.

Gannett press release 020719
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