Gannett Co. Inc. released a strongly worded announcement today confirming its continued interest in acquiring Tribune Publishing Co.
The company said last week’s vote at the annual shareholder meeting supports its decision to press forward with its bid to buy the parent of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. Gannett, ahead of last week’s meeting, went on a campaign asking Tribune shareholders to cast withhold votes as its frustrations bubbled over about an inability to get a deal done with Tribune. The eight directors up for election during the meeting were all voted in by more than a majority of shareholders, according to results released by Tribune. Meanwhile, withhold votes for each director hovered anywhere from around 40 percent to 47 percent. Gannett contends if votes affiliated with Tribune or its chairman Michael Ferro are not counted, the majority of shareholders withheld their votes.
“Gannett continues to believe that the Tribune board should engage constructively with Gannett toward negotiating a merger agreement that benefits both companies’ stockholders,” Gannett said in its statement. “Gannett also believes it is imperative for due diligence to occur soon, given the apparent rapid series of changes taking place inside Tribune that may diminish the value of Tribune to Gannett.”
Tribune said this month it planned to rename itself Tronc, short for Tribune online content, in an effort to show the company’s direction and efforts in the digital space. Its share will move from trading on the New York Stock Exchange to the Nasdaq Global Select Market June 20.
Tribune shares were roughly flat in midday trading today at $13.10 per share for a market value of $415.25 million.