Alden Global Capital has played another card in its campaign to take over Lee Enterprises. On Friday, the hedge fund nominated a slate of three directors for seats on Lee’s eight-person board.
In a press release Monday, Lee described these as “purported” nominations and said it would see whether proper procedures were followed. If so, they would be considered at the company’s 2022 annual meeting.
Alden offered a bid of $24 a share a week ago, $5.50 per share more than the company’s trading value at market close Nov. 19. Lee rebuffed the offer, saying its directors will consider it over the next year, while putting in a “poison pill” aimed at blocking Alden from buying more than 10% of the company’s shares.
Alden gained seats on the board of Tribune Publishing over a period of 18 months as part of its strategy for acquiring control of that company, which it completed this summer.
In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Alden said it will press for more expeditious consideration of the offer if it gains seats on Lee’s board.
Meanwhile, unions representing 12 Lee Enterprises newsrooms sent a joint letter to the company’s board of directors Monday, urging them to reject any offers made by Alden Global Capital to take over the chain.
“They will take this proud company, built over decades of hard work, and leave it in ashes. Thousands of us will lose our jobs, and the communities we serve will never recover,” the letter reads. “Cities with weakened or shuttered newspapers have lower turnout, higher taxes, more corruption and increased polarization. Our democracy suffers, and Alden reaps the rewards.”
The unions represent some of the largest newspapers within Lee, including the Omaha World-Herald, The Buffalo News and the Richmond-Times Dispatch. They argue in their letter that Alden has a history of cutting staff at its newspapers and closing physical newsrooms.
Earlier this year, after Alden acquired Tribune Publishing, 13 unions at Tribune papers released a joint statement denouncing the move. They had worked unsuccessfully to find buyers for each of the papers. In just six weeks, Alden eliminated more than 10% of newsroom staff across Tribune.
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Correction: Alden offered a bid that was $5.50 per share more than the company’s trading value at market close Nov. 19.