Los Angeles investment firm Oaktree Capital, with a 14.8 percent stake in Tribune Publishing, is pushing for the publisher to hold discussions with Gannett Co. Inc. about a possible deal.
Oaktree, in a filing today with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said “it would be in the best interests of [Tribune] and its stockholders for [the company] to pursue discussions with Gannett to see if an acceptable agreement can be reached for Gannett to acquire [Tribune].”
The firm went on to say in its filing that it intended to make its case to other Tribune shareholders.
Gannett made a go last month at Tribune with an $815 million offer to buy the company, the parent of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. The all-cash offer equated to $12.25 per share. Tensions built between the two when Gannett made its frustrations public over what it saw as a lack of engagement from Tribune on a possible deal. Tribune fired back last week taking Gannett to task for behavior it called “erratic and unreliable.”
Tribune ultimately rejected the deal on the basis that the offer undervalued the company, an argument Gannett said was based on an incorrect trading multiple that included the Financial Times and Washington Post deals that skewed the average. Tribune also released today a document laying out its case for rejecting the deal, reiterating its belief that Gannett is “acting in desperation.”
Gannett has said it will take its case to Tribune shareholders asking them to cast “withhold” votes at Tribune’s upcoming annual meeting.
Tribune shares were up about 5 percent Friday to a market value of $366.95 million.
Gannett’s stock was trading roughly flat for a market capitalization of $1.87 billion.