Tronc is warming up to the idea of selling the company formerly known as Tribune Publishing to Gannett, according to Politico.
Politico’s Ken Doctor, who has been out in front of the Tronc-Gannett story from the beginning, wrote that it is “apparently no longer a question of whether to sell or not, but for how much.”
Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Gannett Co. increased its offer to purchase Tronc after months of unsolicited offers were rejected by Tronc chairman Michael Ferro. Tronc owns a variety of newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.
Gannett’s original offer of $12.25 a share was increased to $15 per share, but Tronc rejected both attempts by Gannett. According to Politico, the third and most recent offer has Tronc execs moving forward with a counter.
Doctor reported that the new offer “arrived in the mid-$18-a-share range, and came out of an in-person meeting in Los Angeles” that included Gannett CEO Bob Dickey, Gannett chairman John Jeffry Louis, Ferro and Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn
Last month, Doctor said Ferro might finally be ready to accept Gannett’s takeover offer. Two shareholders claim that the board at Tronc isn’t performing its legal, fiduciary responsibility by refusing to engage in sale talks.
Tronc reported second-quarter revenues of $405 million earlier this month, a 1.8 percent drop from the previous year — but it would have been an even steeper 5.9 percent drop were it not for the 2015 acquisition of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Ad revenue was also down by 4.4 percent.
The newly branded Tronc, or Tribune Online Content, pools the company’s various media brands and leverages technology with the intent of delivering more personalized, interactive experiences to Tribune’s 60 million monthly users. The name has been mocked throughout the industry and on social media since it was unveiled in June.