Tribune Says New $681 Million Proposal Likely to Top Alden’s

Tribune Publishing Co. will talk with a group that has offered $680.8 million for the newspaper publisher, saying it will likely beat out an accepted $634.8 million takeover offer from hedge fund Alden Global Capital.

A nonbinding bid of $18.50 a share in cash from Newslight, as Choice Hotels International Inc. Chairman Stewart Bainum Jr. and Swiss billionaire Hansjoerg Wyss have named their group, is likely to lead to a superior proposal under the terms of the Alden merger agreement, Tribune said in a statement Monday.

Alden’s offer of $17.25 a share remains in effect, but Tribune can now engage in negotiations with Newslight and offer it due-diligence materials, the newspaper company said.

Tribune shares rose as much as 2.6% to the Newslight offer price, $18.50, in New York trading Monday.

Alden, which already owns 32% of the publisher of the Chicago Tribune and New York Daily News, agreed in February to pay about $430 million for the shares it didn’t own. The pact included selling the Baltimore Sun to a charity formed by Bainum, but that deal later fell apart and Bainum decided to try to acquire all of Tribune instead.

Tech investor Mason P. Slaine has said he intends to put about $100 million into the Newslight bid, having tried several times before to buy two Tribune newspapers in his home state of Florida: the Orlando Sentinel and the Fort Lauderdale-based South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Tribune was leaning toward the Bainum-Wyss offer.

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