New York-based investment firm Alden Global Capital made a bid for the entire of Lee Enterprises Inc., which owns some of the largest newspapers in major cities in the U.S., as part of a larger effort to build a stable of media companies through a series of takeovers and acquisitions, according to the company’s annual report.
Alden, which emerged in 2017 as the largest shareholder of the Graham Holdings, owning a stake of about 10 percent, submitted a proposal for Lee’s newspapers and related businesses in exchange for stock that would give it about 30 percent of the company, according to the December filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In a letter to Lee’s board, Alden says that Lee’s newspapers and related businesses could be worth about $880 million, representing about nine times its estimated 2017 EBITDA. It says that its offer represents an 88 percent premium to Lee’s closing stock price on Sept. 21, 2017, the day after Alden disclosed a 8.8 percent stake in the company.
Lee Enterprises had $338 million in EBITDA on $609 million in revenue in 2017, according to a memo distributed to employees Friday.
Lee has offered to sell itself to Digital First Media, according to other sources. If it moves forward with that deal, Alden will no longer be interested in acquiring the assets. In the meantime, Alden would need to solicit other potential bidders for the company.
Lee owns around 235 U.S. newspapers and 47 other publications, including The Boston Globe and The Miami Herald. It also has subsidiaries that offer digital media services and online investment services.