Gannett tells Tribune shareholders not to vote for board

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Gannett Co., publisher of USA Today, has made an offer to buy Tribune Publishing. | Getty Images

NEW YORK — Gannett is escalating its pursuit of rival newspaper company Tribune, telling shareholders of Tribune not to vote for its board member nominees up for election in June.

Gannett, the publisher of USA Today and other newspapers, said Monday that withholding a vote at Tribune’s annual meeting next month will send a message to the management team that it needs to engage in takeover talks.

Tribune said in a statement Monday that it expects to hold its annual meeting as planned and that it will have the votes needed for its nominees to be elected to the board.

“This latest ploy to encourage Tribune Publishing shareholders to withhold their votes at the 2016 annual meeting is a distraction from the real issue, which is whether the Gannett proposal is credible,” Tribune said.

Last week, Gannett offered to buy Tribune Publishing Co. for more than $388 million. Gannett said at the time that it made the offer public after Tribune refused to have discussions about a deal. Later that week, Tribune said Gannett was “playing games” and that it was reviewing the deal.

Tribune said Monday that Gannett’s “campaign to suggest that our board has not taken its proposal with due seriousness is misleading and disingenuous.”

A deal would marry Gannett Co.’s more than 100 daily newspapers with Tribune’s papers, which include the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

Shares of Gannett edged down 7 cents to $16.78 in midday trading Monday, while Tribune Publishing fell 20 cents to $11.13.

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