Gannett Co., the publisher of USA Today, agreed to buy Journal Media Group Inc., the owner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for about $280 million, a first step in the company’s strategy to acquire more newspapers.
Journal Media shareholders will receive $12 a share, a 45 percent premium over Wednesday’s closing price of $8.30, according to a statement. Gannett, based in McLean, Virginia, will finance the deal with cash and its $500 million revolving credit facility.
Several media companies have spun off their newspaper operations in recent years, making the shrinking industry ripe for ownership consolidation. Journal Media Group gives Gannett 15 more daily newspapers and 18 weeklies, creating a combined presence in 106 local U.S. markets, including Milwaukee and Memphis.
“This transaction is an excellent first step in the industry consolidation strategy we have communicated to our shareholders and is a good example of the value-creating opportunities we believe are available,” Robert J. Dickey, Gannett’s chief executive officer, said in the statement.
Journal Media was quoted at 11.88 in extended trading, up 43 percent. Gannett was unchanged after closing at $14.94 in New York, a gain of 3.8 percent.
The deal will add about $450 million to annual revenue and contribute to profit right away, Gannett said. It’s expected to add 10 cents to 15 cents a share in profit and produce more than $10 million in savings.
Both Gannett and Journal Media were recently spun off from more lucrative broadcast businesses.
In June, Gannett completed a separation of its broadcasting and digital businesses into a new company called Tegna Inc. In April, E.W. Scripps Co. and Journal Communications Inc. merged their broadcasting assets and spun off their newspaper businesses into the new Journal Media Group.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016 and is subject to the approval of Journal Media shareholders.