After a months-long courtship, Gannett is likely to close a deal to purchase Tronc soon, Politico reported Sunday night.
The deal is expected to value Tronc, the newspaper publisher formerly known as Tribune Publishing, at somewhere between $18.50 and $19 per share, according to Politico:
Such a price would have represented a 140 percent premium over the then-trading price of Tribune Publishing shares before Gannett CEO Bob Dickey made his first offer for the company’s nine metro newspapers in the spring.
Gannett has been pursuing Tronc publicly since April, when it made an acquisition offer that was soon rebuffed by the newspaper chain, which owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and several other major American dailies. The company, chaired by Chicago tech mogul Michael Ferro, has resisted Gannett's overtures for months, bringing aboard a deep-pocketed investor and adopting a "poison pill" strategy that would thwart any takeover attempts.
Gannett and Tronc have been circling each other for months, with The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News publishing separate reports that a deal was simmering. Now, per Politico, a formal offer could come "as soon as business opens on the fourth quarter of the year, as early as Monday morning."
If the deal goes through, Gannett would gain three major properties in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun, which would become regional anchors for the West, Midwest and East, respectively. The papers would add reporting acumen and advertising revenue to Gannett's newly rechristened USA Today Network, but there would undoubtedly be some redundancies between Tronc and Gannett's corporate organizations that would be pruned as a cost-savings.