Hedge fund working to acquire Lee and some of Montana’s largest newspapers

HELENA (MTN News) — Alden Global Capital, LLC, a hedge fund, has announced a bid to acquire Lee Enterprises.

Lee is the parent company of the Montana newspapers the Missoulian, the Ravalli Republic, the Billings Gazette, the Montana Standard and the Helena Independent Record.

Lee Enterprises is a public traded company that has 75 daily newspaper outlets across the nation.

Alden is offering $24 a share, around a 30% increase on Lee’s closing stock price of $18.45 on Friday. Alden owned 6% of the issued and outstanding common stock of Lee as of Friday.

In a letter to the Lee Enterprises Board of Directors, Alden said: “We believe that as a private company and part of our successful nationwide platforms, Lee would be in a stronger position to maximize its resources and realize strategic value that enhances its operations and supports its employees in their important work serving local communities.

“Our interest in Lee is a reaffirmation of our substantial commitment to the newspaper industry and our desire to support local newspapers over the long term.”

Alden currently owns around 200 publications, making them the second-largest newspaper publisher in the United States. However, the hedge fund has earned a reputation of slashing costs, often through layoffs, among journalists formerly employed at those publications.

Lee Enterprises has already been making downsizing/cost-cutting efforts in recent years. The Billings Gazette, Montana’s largest newspaper, announced in September it will sell its current building with the intention of moving into a smaller location somewhere in town.

The Missoulian is also selling its building in downtown Missoula.