Gannett might sweeten bid for Tribune Publising

Gannett might sweeten its offer for Tribune Publishing above the $15 a share it is now offering, but only if it would help close a deal, reported citing a source close to the company.

The Gannett board was only last week looking at the possibility of walking away but drew comfort from the volume of withheld votes in the just-concluded voting for the Tribune board of directors, according to the source.

The huge number of withheld votes showed that many shareholders were angry that Tribune chairman Michael Ferro was fighting Gannett's hostile takeover bid.

The source added that the Gannett board would now leave the offer on the table for the foreseeable future and look closely at next quarter's results for Tribune to see if the numbers continued to erode.

Meanwhile, Tribune Publishing has undertaken a renaming exercise. The company will be known as tronc - with a lowercase ''t'',  and it will also move its shares on 20 June from the NYSE to Nasdaq.

According to Ferro, the new name was meant to give the company a new identity to reflect new media realities. Tronc is supposed to be short for Tribune Online Content.

Meanwhile, Gannett, the owner of USA Today was prepared to sign an agreement to share private business information to help negotiate an all-cash deal, according to a statement, yesterday. The McLean, Virginia, company was also seeking the right to send an offer directly to Tribune's stockholders.

''Gannett believes that maintaining this flexibility is important in light of the continued opposition to Gannett's'' bid from Tribune's board, the company said.

''Gannett continues to believe that the Tribune Board should engage constructively with Gannett toward negotiating a merger agreement that benefits both companies' stockholders,'' the company said.

''Gannett also believes it is imperative for due diligence to occur soon given the apparent rapid series of changes taking place inside Tribune that may diminish the value of Tribune to Gannett,'' it added.