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Gannett sticks with its bid for Tribune Publishing

Gannett sticks with its bid for Tribune Publishing
Gannett headquarters in McLean, Va. The company, which owns USA Today and other daily papers, ended its six-month effort to acquire Tronc, the owner of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. (Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

Gannett is keeping its $15-per-share offer for Tribune Publishing on the table into August, the company said Tuesday.

In a news release, Gannett said the offer would remain open while it evaluates "various near-term developments," including Tribune Publishing's second-quarter financial results, which are expected to be reported in August.

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The announcement followed the release of voting results Monday that showed more than 40% of Tribune Publishing shareholders withheld support for each of the directors up for election at the company's annual meeting last week in Los Angeles.

Gannett's own accounting of the election, also released Monday, showed the percentage of votes withheld by shareholders not affiliated with Chicago-based Tribune Publishing or Chairman Michael Ferro was closer to 50%.

Although Gannett said the offer would remain open through August, the company added a measure of urgency to its request that Tribune Publishing "engage constructively" toward negotiating a merger.

"It is imperative for due diligence to occur soon given the apparent rapid series of changes taking place inside Tribune that may diminish the value of Tribune to Gannett," the company said.

A Tribune Publishing spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday.

McLean, Va.-based Gannett, publisher of USA Today and more than 100 other newspapers, upped its unsolicited bid for Tribune Publishing last month to $15 per share, a deal that valued the company at $864 million, including debt. Tribune Publishing's board rejected the offer, saying the company's plan for leveraging the digital assets of the legacy newspaper chain would bring more value to shareholders.

The Ferro-led board has rebuffed Gannett's unsolicited bid to buy Tribune Publishing since an initial $12.25-per-share offer was made public in April.

Tribune Publishing, which will be renamed Tronc on June 20, owns the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other major newspapers.

Shares of Tribune Publishing rose 15 cents, or 1.2%, to $13.16 on Tuesday. Gannett shares rose 5 cents, or 0.3%, to $15.38.

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UPDATES:

2:42 p.m.: This article was updated with closing stock prices.

9:10 a.m.: This article was updated throughout with staff reporting.

This article was originally published at 5:46 a.m.

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