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Tribune Publishing rejects Gannett’s latest buyout bid, reveals major investment from Nant Capital

May 23, 2016

Tribune Publishing on Monday rejected a second takeover bid from USA Today owner Gannett, but did say that it was open to further talks.

Gannett Co. last week raised its per-share bid for the owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other newspapers to $15, from $12.25. Gannett, based in McLean, Va., put the total value of the revised offer at about $864 million, which includes about $385 million in debt.

Though rejecting the offer, Tribune Publishing Co.’s statement Monday did invite Gannett to create nondisclosure agreement so that the companies could talk about whether a deal could be reached.

Tribune Publishing also revealed a $70.5-million investment from Nant Capital. Nant’s acquisition of 4.7 million shares makes it Tribune’s second-biggest institutional shareholder, with a 12.9% stake.

Nant’s founder, Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, will become vice chairman of the board.

Tribune Publishing’s rejection of the latest bid arrived three days after Gannett sent an excoriating letter to Tribune Publishing shareholders questioning the motives of the company board and Michael W. Ferro Jr., the company’s non-executive chairman

In that letter, Gannett urged Tribune shareholders to reject the company’s slate of board nominees, and criticized the publisher’s decision to adopt a “poison pill” defense to avert a buyout.

Gannett’s attempts to acquire Tribune Publishing follow a recent shake-up at the company.

In February, Ferro Jr. made a $44.4-million cash investment in Tribune Publishing through his Merrick Media. At the time, Ferro owned a sizeable stake in the Chicago Tribune’s crosstown rival, the Chicago Sun-Times. He later said that he would donate the Sun-Times stake to a charitable trust to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.


UPDATES:

5:46 a.m.: This article has been with details on Nant Capital’s investment in the company.

This article was originally published  at 5:15 a.m. 

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