Tronc Said in Active Talks on Gannett Bid of About $673 Million

Tronc Inc. is in active discussions over Gannett Inc.’s takeover bid of about $673 million, people familiar with the matter said, indicating it may be willing to drop its fierce resistance to a merger of the two newspaper publishers.

The companies are discussing an offer by Gannett in the neighborhood of $18.50 a share, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations. While the talks are in full swing, it’s possible a deal may not materialize.

Tronc Chairman Michael Ferro, who renamed the Chicago-based newspaper chain formerly known as Tribune Publishing, has thus far rebuffed Gannett’s overtures in favor of a plan to produce more video and distribute stories to more readers. Gannett’s most recent publicly disclosed offer was for $15 a share back in May.

Gannett, led by Chief Executive Officer Bob Dickey, has been snapping up other newspaper publishers to gain greater scale as the industry struggles against online competition. This year, McLean, Virginia-based Gannett bought Milwaukee Journal Sentinel publisher Journal Media Group and agreed to purchase North Jersey Media Group, the owner of the Record of Bergen County, for $156 million.

Tronc and Gannett declined to comment. Politico reported late last month that Gannett was offering about $18.50 and Tronc was weighing whether to make a counteroffer.

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