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After Rejecting Gannett's Bid For The Tribune, Ferro Says He'll Bid On Gannett

By Rachel Cromidas in News on May 19, 2016 7:05PM

In a Machiavellian twist, Michael Ferro, chair of Tribune Publishing, says he wants to buy the newspaper company Gannett, just weeks after he rejected Gannett's $815 million bid to buy the Tribune.

As media journalist Jim Romenesko just put it on Facebook, Ferro has big dreams. Gannett and Tribune Publishing (which owns the Chicago Tribune and the LA Times, and split off from the Tribune Company in 2014) have both seen their share of financial struggles. Gannett, which owns USA Today, offered to buy Tribune Publishing for $815 million, which came out to 63 percent more than the company's stock was worth per share. But Ferro rejected the offer earlier this month. The Tribune board is now considering a higher offer from Gannett.

At the time, Trib Pub CEO Justin Dearborn called it an "opportunistic proposal [that] understates the Company’s true value." We are skeptical of this.

But Ferro apparently now has plans to buy Gannett, instead. Ken Doctor of Capital New York is reporting that Ferro told a gathering of LA Times sales staff that "I am going to bid on Gannett. I have lawyers working on it." Since Gannett is estimated to be worth $1.84 billion today, Ferro's boast, the latest in a series of ill-advised power moves, is perplexing. As Doctor points out, Ferro could have an easier time buying the entirety of the Tribune and taking it private himself. (Editors note: a rep for Tribune Publishing points out that Doctor's information came from confidential sources and has not been confirmed. Ferro has made no public statements on the matter.)

To those of us in the industry still reeling over how Ferro "saved" the Sun-Times, it looks like this is the beginning of a very bumpy ride for the Tribune.