Tribune calls Gannett 'erratic,' but still reviewing deal
NEW YORK (AP) - Tribune Publishing said in a letter Tuesday that USA Today owner Gannett is "erratic" and "unreliable," as the two newspaper companies try to discuss a possible tie-up.
Nonetheless, Tribune Publishing said it is still considering the $388 million takeover offer from Gannett.
Tribune Publishing's letter comes a day after Gannett made public its bid to buy the owner of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. Gannett Co., based in McLean, Virginia, said Monday that Tribune Publishing refused to have meaningful discussions about a deal.
In its letter Tuesday, Tribune Publishing said Gannett executives cancelled a meeting without reason and once asked it to make a decision about the proposal within 90 minutes.
"Gannett has been playing games," Tribune Publishing said in the letter, which was signed by its CEO Justin Dearborn.
In an interview published Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times, Tribune Publishing's Chairman Michael Ferro said Gannett is "trying to steal the company."
Ferro said Gannett is attempting to "bum-rush" Tribune Publishing before its board can review his strategic plan for the company and ahead of a June 2 shareholders meeting.
In its own letter Tuesday, Gannett said that the meeting discussed in Tribune Publishing's letter was cancelled because a person from Tribune's team who did not know about the offer would be there.
"Tribune was well aware of Gannett's reason for cancelling the dinner," Gannett CEO Robert Dickey said in the letter.
Gannett said it is "eager" to negotiate a deal with Tribune Publishing.
"Please let us know when and where you would like to meet," the letter said.
Gannett said Monday that it wants to buy Chicago-based Tribune Publishing to expand its USA Today Network, an effort launched late last year that helps it share stories between national paper USA Today and its more than 100 local daily newspapers.
Besides the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, buying Tribune Publishing would give Gannett control of the Hartford Courant, The Baltimore Sun and several other newspapers.
Shares in Gannett Co. fell 40 cents, or 2.4 percent, to close Tuesday at $16.38. Shares of Tribune Publishing Co. rose 5 cents to $11.55.