On April 12, USA Today owner Gannett made a private offer to Tribune Publishing: We want you, for roughly $815 million, or $12.25 per share. USA Today's own report on the offer notes that at $12.25 a share, Gannett is offering a 63% premium over Friday's closing stock price. The Wall Street Journal notes the deal is valued at $400 million, as Gannett would be acquiring Tribune's debt. Gannett CEO Robert Dickey says that after making the offer he communicated with Tribune CEO Justin Dearborn and Chair Michael Ferro via phone. But after what Dickey frames as "Tribune's continued refusal to begin constructive discussions with us," Gannett went public with the proposal.
"What we're hoping for is to sit down with Tribune's board and work out a transaction," says Dickey. What that transaction would mean: Joining USA Today and 107 local outlets (the Detroit Free Press, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Arizona Republic, etc.), would be 11 dailies, chief among them the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Baltimore Sun. Tribune "fills a number of geographical gaps for us," Dickey says. Gannett thinks it could shave $50 million in costs due to overlaps, though Dickey says editorial wouldn't be slashed. The Journal notes that Gannett claims 12% of America's daily newspaper circulation; Tribune Publishing, 5%. (Read more Gannett stories.)