Thursday, January 30, 2020
In a power move worthy of Gordon Gekko, Alden Global Capital acquired a near six percent interest Wednesday in media rival, Lee Enterprises, after purchasing a $9.2 million stake in the company on the open market.
Alden’s subsidiary, MNG Holdings (DBA) Digital First Media reported purchasing 3.4 million shares to the Security and Exchange Commission at roughly $2.72 a share on Wednesday. By the final bell, Lee Enterprises stock closed at $2.11 a share.
The acquisition comes on the same day billionaire Warren Buffett announced he was selling his media empire, BH Media Group, to Lee Enterprises for $140 million, bringing 81 dailies under their control. Lee Enterprises currently owns 46 newspapers, including The Arizona Daily Star. Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway also loaned Lee Enterprises $576 million, at 9 percent interest, to finance the deal and help alleviate Lee’s $400 million debt.
According to Alden’s SEC filing, the company “intends to engage in discussions with management and/or the Issuer’s Board of Directors about certain operational and strategic matters, including, but not limited to the recently announced acquisition of Berkshire Hathaway’s newspaper operations and matters pertaining to the Issuer’s 2020 Annual Meeting."
Alden has built a vulture capitalist reputation after acquiring and gutting media companies, like Digital First Media, and numerous other dailies and weeklies over the past decade. Alden unsuccessfully tried to acquire control of Gannett, Lee’s 50-50 partner in the Arizona Daily Star, by attempting to plant their members on the media company’s board in 2019. Gannett shareholders overwhelmingly rejected the hedge fund’s attempt last May.
Lee Enterprises has declined to comment on the potential acquisition at this time.