Gannett’s hot pursuit of Tronc could be over as early as Monday morning, according to a report.
Since last week, attorneys have been busy drafting an asset purchase agreement that’s now been exchanged by Gannett and Tronc, Politico reports, citing confidential sources. Gannett (GCI) is best known as the publisher of newspapers including USA Today, while Tronc (TRNC) is the rebranded title of what used to be known as Tribune Publishing, the broadsheet chain including The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune.
Tronc’s board of directors met on Thursday, likely discussing the imminent sale, the sources told Politico.
The news outlet reports that Gannett would likely pay somewhere between $18.50 and $19 per share, slightly sweetened from its reported “mid-$18-a-share” bid in August.
The deal would put an end to a months-long series of at-times publicly contentious negotiations, and would “sew up two more top media markets—and largely complete [Gannett] CEO [Bob] Dickey’s play to become the new scale play in local newspapering,” Politico reports.
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Pundits are wondering whether reports of Gannett mulling an offer for The Dallas Morning News helped sway Tronc chairman Michael Ferro’s decision in recent weeks.
Fortune’s Mathew Ingram reported on Gannett’s chase-down of Tronc this June:
Gannett, an even larger newspaper chain that owns USA Today, launched its takeover bid in April with an offer of $12.25 a share or about $400 million.
After being rebuffed by Ferro—who accused Gannett of trying to “steal the company”—Gannett boosted its offer to $15 a share or $475 million (excluding debt).
That was almost a 100% premium to where Tribune was trading before Gannett expressed an interest.
A takeover would also raise questions about Patrick Soon-Shiong, the healthcare entrepreneur who happens to be Tronc’s second biggest shareholder and who has threatened to sue in the event of a sale to Gannett, sources told Politico.