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Digital First sends buyout proposal to Gannett

Digital First owns about 200 newspapers and other publications. It has a reputation for cost-cutting.

Gannett, based in McClean, Va., is seen in

Gannett, based in McClean, Va., is seen in 2010. The company owns dozens of newspapers including the Record in New Jersey and USA Today.   Photo Credit: AP / Jacquelyn Martin

DENVER — The publisher of USA Today has received a $1.36 billion takeover bid from a media group with a history of taking over struggling newspapers and slashing costs.

MNG Enterprises, better known as Digital First Media, said in a letter to Gannett Co. Monday that its leadership team has failed to show that it can run the company effectively.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report that the hedge-fund backed MNG has built up a 7.5 percent stake in Gannett, and that it has been rebuffed repeatedly by the company about a sale.

Gannett said Monday it received the letter, and its board will carefully review the proposal.

The McClean, Virginia-based publisher owns dozens of newspapers including the Record in New Jersey and The Arizona Republic, in addition to USA Today.

Digital First plans offered $12 per share for Gannett, nearly a quarter above its closing share price Friday of $9.75. Gannett's shares have rebounded after a rough spell in 2018.

Digital First owns about 200 newspapers and other publications including The Denver Post and Boston Morning Herald. It has a reputation for stringent, painful cost-cutting. Its biggest shareholder is Alden Global Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that mainly invests in distressed companies.

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