Lee Enterprises at 4600 E 53rd Street Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in Davenport, Iowa.
Lee Enterprises on Friday rejected a prospective buyer’s attempt to nominate three new board members next year, citing procedural flaws in its filing.
Davenport, Iowa-based Lee Enterprises said New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital’s mistakes included making the nominations through a third-party affiliate that did not own Lee shares. “Alden failed to meet the most basic and most important requirement of our director nomination procedure,” the company said in a news release.
Lee also noted that the deadline for 2022 board nominations has since passed, so Alden cannot try again. A representative for Alden did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Alden is looking to make Lee the latest in a series of acquisitions intended to consolidate the newspaper industry.
It appeared hopeful for a speedy takeover after making its $141 million, or $24 per share, offer for Lee on Nov. 22. It noted that figure represented about a 30 percent premium over the previous day’s market close, and said that, with Lee’s cooperation, it could have things wrapped up in “approximately four weeks.”
But in the past two weeks, Lee shares have risen above $24, putting pressure on Alden to raise its offer. Lee’s board unanimously voted to enact a “poison pill” plan that could dilute shares if Alden starts buying without its consent. And newsroom unions have begun a campaign against the acquisition, noting Alden’s reputation for steep cost-cuts in the name of efficiency.