Gannett is to be acquired by GateHouse Media owner, New Media Investment Group in a deal that will see the resulting company publish over 260 daily and 300 weekly newspapers.
Included in the stable of around100 titles published by Gannett will be USA Today, UK publisher Newsquest and digital marketing business ReachLocal. It is expected that widespread overlapping costs of up to $300m annually will be cut as it pursues a more digital future.
The headquarters of the combined company will be based in Washington DC, where Gannet is set up, and will retain the Gannett title.
New Media Investment Group chief executive Michael Reed will remain at the helm as chairman and Paul Bascobert has been appointed president and chief executive officer having previously operated as president of XO Group which has evolved from a publisher into a marketplace.
He has previously held a number of other roles within media companies, including Bloomberg LP, where he served as chief operating officer of its Media Group and president of Bloomberg Businessweek, and Dow Jones & Co, where he was the chief marketing officer across its consumer products, including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and MarketWatch.
J. Jeffry Louis, chairman of the Gannett board of directors, said: “On behalf of the board, I am pleased to welcome Paul to Gannett at this important time for our company and industry.
“We are confident that his dynamic skillset and significant industry experience make him ideally suited to lead this company forward. Paul is a proven leader with a clear strategic vision and established record of successfully pivoting companies toward a marketplace model and driving financial and operational performance for multiple marketing solutions companies and well-established media brands. We look forward to benefiting from Paul’s experience and insights as we work together to extend Gannett’s leadership as a trusted marketing services partner to businesses, while delivering critical, trusted news to communities nationwide.”
Reed said in a statement announcing the merger: “We believe this transaction will create value for our shareholders, greater opportunities for our employees, and a stronger future for journalism.”
Speaking last month about the potential merger, Mark Hollinshead, former chair of the Mirror Group predicted the beginning of further media mergers as a result: “With the likes of Facebook moving into decline and not likely to be here in five years time, in its current form, we could be on the cusp of a renaissance in local media businesses which provide news and journalism which is trusted and useful to consumers albeit published on local growing digital platforms rather than ink on paper. Advertisers are looking for new opportunities which reach large audiences who are consuming content in a relevant and trusted environment.”