The long-awaited end to the tronc-Gannett saga might be near.

Politico reported last week that Gannett was close to finalizing a deal to purchase the parent company of the Los Angeles Times, while Bloomberg followed with a report claiming that while talks had advanced, a deal was not imminent. Gannett began its public pursuit of tronc, then known as Tribune Publishing, on April 25 when it announced its $815 million offer to acquire the company for $12.25 a share in cash. The reported price for the deal now said to be on the table would be closer to $19 a share – an increase of nearly 50 percent from the original offer.

While the higher price could suit tronc Chairman Michael Ferro, it might displease the company’s second-largest shareholder: billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, who has harbored a longstanding interest in owning the paper. In June, he invested $70.5 million in tronc and received a seat on the board. Soon-Shiong has reportedly threatened to file a lawsuit against tronc should the company complete a sale to Gannett so soon after he invested in Ferro’s vision.

“Even if he’s upset, he has a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders,” said Lloyd Greif, chief executive of investment banking firm Greif & Co. “Its stock performance will depend on how well the companies are integrated postacquisition.”

A Gannett spokeswoman declined to comment on the Politico report and a tronc representative did not return a request for comment. A spokesman for Soon-Shiong said he could not be reached for comment.

Tronc’s stock fell to $17.05 at close of trading on Oct. 6 after rising to $17.50 on Oct. 3.

Freedom of Press

While the presidential nominees were busy trading barbs at the first presidential debate last month, hundreds of writers and journalists gathered to celebrate the power of free speech at an awards gala organized by Pen Center USA, a human rights and literary nonprofit based in Beverly Hills.

The Sept. 28 event at the Beverly Wilshire hotel honored writers in fiction, nonfiction, and journalism, with special awards given to author Isabel Allende, (Lifetime Achievement); Jason Rezaian, former bureau chief for the Washington Post in Tehran, Iran (Freedom to Write); and Willow Bay, director of the Annenberg School of Journalism at USC (Award of Honor).

Bay, a veteran television journalist, has led Annenberg since 2014. In addition to her academic role, she serves as senior strategic adviser for the Huffington Post and is a special correspondent for Bloomberg Television. However, Bay said after the event that she’s most proud of some of her earliest newsroom experiences, such as a stint at CNN.


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