USA Today publisher Gannett Co. is nearing a deal to combine with rival GateHouse Media, a move that would join the nation’s two largest newspaper groups by circulation.
The companies are discussing a cash-and-stock deal in which GateHouse or its parent would likely buy Gannett and its Chairman and Chief Executive Mike Reed would assume the same roles at the enlarged entity, according to people familiar with the matter.
It couldn’t be learned what the price of the deal might be. Gannett shares GCI, -2.23% closed at $7.90 on Wednesday. They rose nearly 8% after hours after The Wall Street Journal reported that a deal with GateHouse NEWM, +0.44% may be close A deal could be announced in the next few weeks assuming the talks don’t fall apart, they said.
A tie-up could help the companies weather the brutal environment for local newspapers around the country. A merger would give Gannett a far wider geographic footprint to sell digital advertising through its USA Today network and help speed the companies’ reorientation away from print.