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Shares of Gannett Co., the publisher that owns USA Today, closed up 1.6% at $7.75 Thursday after climbing as much as 9.3% on a report that it held merger talks with Gatehouse Media, a deal that would unite the two largest newspaper chains in the U.S. New Media Investment Group Inc., which owns Gatehouse, rose 4.7% to $9.

Gannett also has discussed deals with Tribune Publishing Co. and McClatchy Co., The Wall Street Journal said, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. Gannett and Gatehouse didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from Bloomberg News.

Newspaper giants, plagued by diminishing advertising and competition from digital upstarts, are increasingly looking for ways to team up. But Gannett hasn't welcomed all comers: It spurned a hostile $1.36 billion offer from Digital First Media Enterprises Inc. in January.

Digital First Media -- majority-owned by the hedge fund Alden Global -- also embarked on a failed campaign to get representation on Gannett's board. At its annual meeting this month, Gannett shareholders rejected the three directors proposed by Digital First.

Employees at Gannett feared that a Digital First takeover would cut jobs at the struggling company. Gannett has suffered its own layoffs, but the cuts haven't gone as deep as those made at Digital First, owner of the Denver Post, St. Paul Pioneer Press and other daily newspapers.

Business on 05/31/2019

Print Headline: Gannett stock rises on talk of merger

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