Gannett buys News Sentinel, Commercial Appeal

Gannett, the company that now owns The Tennessean and three smaller newspapers in Tennessee, announced Wednesday that it has agreed to buy Journal Media Group, which owns the News Sentinel of Knoxville and the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, according to reports in the impacted papers.

From USA Today, also a Gannett paper, as posted by The Tennessean:

Gannett, the publishing company that owns USA TODAY and media businesses in 92 local markets, said late Wednesday that it has agreed to buy Journal Media Group for about $280 million, following through on its strategy of acquiring additional local news outlets after it was spun off from its former parent in June.

Shareholders of Milwaukee-based Journal Media Group will receive $12 a share in cash. That is a 45% premium from the Wednesday closing price of $8.30.

Journal Media Group owns the 178-year old Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, 13 other daily newspapers, 18 weeklies and their affiliated websites in 14 local markets in the U.S.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016. It was approved by both companies’ boards of directors and is subject to approval by Journal Media Group shareholders.

Shares of Gannett closed at $14.94, up almost 4%.

Gannett, based in McLean, Va., will finance the deal through cash and borrowing under the company’s $500 million revolving credit line.

“Gannett is excited to be joining forces with an organization that is so respected by their communities and industry,” said Gannett CEO Robert Dickey. “Just over 100 days ago we laid out the importance of expanding our local market footprint and we are very pleased that our acquisition strategy has kicked off with such a highly regarded company. This transaction will allow us to focus on creating quality journalism for our communities while building substantial value for our shareholders. We welcome the employees of the Journal Media Group into the Gannett family and look forward to continuing to be an industry leader.”

After the deal, Gannett will have a media outlet in 106 local markets in the U.S. It will result in “a combined digital audience of more than 100 million unique visitors a month,” it said. Its print circulation will rise by about 675,000 on weekdays and 950,000 on Sundays, it said.

Note: Besides The Tennessean, Gannett also owns The Jackson Sun, the Leaf-Chronicle of Clarksville and the Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro.

The Commercial Appeal report is HERE; the News-Sentinel version HERE. Headline on the Chattanooga Times-Free Press report: Gannett has now bought all but one of Tennessee’s major newspapers