Shares in Los Angeles Times publisher Tronc are up more than 7% this morning — and touched a 52-week high of $17.53 — following a report that Gannett has sweetened its acquisition offer to more than $18. That means it’s “no longer a question of whether to sell or not, but for how much,” analyst Ken Doctor says in Politico.
Gannett CEO Bob Dickey made the new offer in person at a meeting in L.A. with Tronc Chairman Michael Ferro and CEO Justin Dearborn, Doctor says citing unidentified sources. Tronc may hold out for $20 or more, he adds.
The owner of USA Today wants to expand its national network of regional news powers, and covets Tronc properties including the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, and the Hartford Courant. Gannett bought the Journal Media Group (which owned the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Memphis’ The Commercial Appeal).
Until recently Tronc has resolutely opposed Gannett’s uninvited acquisition offers. It urged Tronc shareholders to register their support for a sale by withholding their votes for the nominated directors at its annual meeting on June 2. They ended up with a majority of the votes cast, even though most independent owners withheld.
Since then Tronc’s share price appreciated more than 50%. Gannett’s fell 22.8% , especially after it disclosed disappointing Q2 results.