September 26, 2016 Last Updated 12:07 pm

Gannett may be at it again, widely rumored to want to buy The Dallas Morning News

A.H. Belo stock rises on the rumor, one that makes sense as the Morning News is, like Gannett, a product of a newspaper-broadcast spin-off

The newspaper publisher Gannett really wants to buy something. Anything, apparently. It’s strategy seems painfully obvious: newspaper circulation is contracting, so the way to grow is to consolidate the industry.

dmn-9-26-200I can see the logic in the strategy, but I can’t see the logic in the way they are going about it.

Gannett very publicly went after Tribune Publishing, offering a good deal at $12.25 a share at a time when the stock was trading for less than that – which, of course, drove up the price of the stock… which, of course, forced Gannett to up their bid.

It was clumsy and violated all the rules of M&A. Maybe the publisher’s experts in their field went with the broadcast side, now called TEGNA, when the spin-off took place? (In fact, the CFO of the old Gannett is now the CFO of the new TEGNA.)

In any case, Gannett didn’t play its cards very well and now must wait to see if Tribune Publishing, now called tronc, is willing to rethink an acquisition following the election (I think it might).

Now comes another rumor, that Gannett wants to buy The Dallas Morning News. It makes sense as the Morning News is owned by A. H. Belo Corporation which was created when there was a spin-off of broadcast from print in 2007. The broadcast side no longer exists, it was bought by… wait for it, Gannett.

But the rumor did what it did with Tribune Publishing, it drove up the price of the stock. But as there was no set public offer, no price set, the stock went up on Friday but is settling back down today. Nonetheless, this can’t help things.

I think it is fair to say that CEO Bob Dickey may want to reevaluate who is on his M&A. The way Gannett is currently working to consolidate the industry is costing the publisher dearly.

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