Alden Global Capital, the New York hedge fund that bought Tribune Publishing this year, said Monday that it was making an offer for another big U.S. newspaper chain, Lee Enterprises, publisher of 90 daily newspapers including The Buffalo News in New York, The Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and The Omaha World-Herald in Nebraska.
In a letter to Lee Enterprises' board of directors, Alden proposed a cash purchase at $24 a share, about 30% more than the company's closing share price Friday of $18.49. The deal values the company at about $141 million.
A number of the papers in the Lee Enterprises stable were once the property of billionaire Warren E. Buffett, who soured on the business in recent years and said most newspapers were "toast." Lee Enterprises managed the 31 daily newspapers and dozens of weeklies owned by Buffett for a time before he sold them to that company in 2020 for $140 million.
Alden, which owns roughly 200 publications through its MediaNews Group subsidiary, bought a 6% stake in Lee Enterprises in 2020. In its letter to the Lee Enterprises board Monday, Alden said that, if it became the owner, the chain "would be in a stronger position to maximize its resources and realize strategic value that enhances its operations and supports its employees in their important work serving local communities."
After years of steadily buying up newspapers across the country, Alden has become a force in the newspaper industry, second only to Gannett, publisher of USA Today and more than 260 other dailies. Journalists have denounced Alden's practice of slashing costs at the publications it owns, often through layoffs. Alden says it has saved many papers from going out of business.
In May, Alden bought Tribune Publishing, the chain that includes The Chicago Tribune and The Daily News in New York, in a deal valued at $633 million.
Lee Enterprises was founded in 1890 and owns newspapers across 26 states, according to its website. A spokesman for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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