Tribune Publishing Co. approached Gannett Co. Inc. about rekindling merger talks between the newspaper publishers just weeks prior to MNG Enterprises Inc.'s takeover offer for the latter, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 16, citing people familiar with the matter.
Gannett officials at the time were not open to engaging with Tribune. However, the Chicago Tribune publisher remains interested in talks, which Gannett's board may reconsider in the wake of MNG's offer.
Previous merger discussions between Tribune and Gannett fell apart after the publishers were unable to agree upon how the deal would be financed. Tribune executives also made several overtures to Gannett in late 2018, and Tribune CEO Justin Dearborn discussed a potential deal with Gannett Chairman John Jeffry Louis III, some of the sources said.
MNG, also known as Digital First Media, has offered to acquire Gannett for $12 per share in cash. In a Jan. 14 letter to Gannett's board, MNG argued that Gannett's stock price has declined since it was spun off from TEGNA Inc. in 2015 and urged the USA Today publisher to hire an investment bank for a review of its strategic alternatives, including a potential sale.
Gannett said its board would carefully review MNG's proposal to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interests of the company and Gannett shareholders.