Tribune Publishing Chairman: ‘I Am Going to Bid on Gannett’

“I have lawyers working on it,” Michael Ferro reportedly says

Tribune Publishing chairman Michael Ferro reportedly has an interesting response to his second-biggest investor suggesting he sell the company to Gannett: “I am going to bid on Gannett.”

Ferro told a group of Los Angeles Times staffers that he’ll purchase Gannett instead of accepting Gannett’s $864 million takeover offer, according to Politico.

“I am going to bid on Gannett,” Ferro reportedly said. “I have lawyers working on it.”

Gannett recently upped its offer to purchase Tribune, which has assets that include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun. Tribune’s second-biggest investor is urging the company’s top executives to go along with a takeover bid by Gannett, saying that snubbing Gannett would “destroy enormous shareholder value.”

Ferro isn’t bluffing, at least when it comes to have lawyers working on it. Newsonomics president Ken Doctor, who has covered this story closer than anyone in the media, says he has confirmed reports that Ferro has “engaged attorneys working independently of Tribune Publishing itself to prepare it.”

Ferro and Gannett have publicly feuded since Gannett made an unsolicited takeover offer last month for Tribune at $12.25 per share in cash. Tribune has since received a revised unsolicited proposal from Gannett to acquire all outstanding shares of Tribune Publishing common stock for $15 per share.

Investor Oaktree Capital Management, which owns roughly 15 percent of Tribune, sent a letter on Wednesday to the Tribune executives stating a strong desire to “engage Gannett immediately and seek to negotiate a transaction in the interest of all Tribune shareholders.”

Ferro doesn’t seem interested and Tribune executives have called Gannett’s aggressive takeover attempt an “opportunistic raid” that undervalued the company.

Gannett issued a statement calling Ferro’s comments about bidding on the company “rumors” and “speculation” while also mentioning they remain committed to their takeover offer.