Gannett Shareholders Shoot Down MNG Nominees, Reelect Board Members

After beginning its purs uit of a hostile takeover of Gannett in January, MNG Enterprises, formerly known as Digital First Media, sought to replace three of the company's board members with its own nominees.

The vote took place today. Gannett shareholders elected all eight Gannett directors at the annual meeting. The news is based on preliminary results.

MNG, which holds a 7.4% ownership interest in Gannett, initially nominated a controlling number of six potential directors for the Gannett board. The company later downgraded that number to three, including former MNG CEO Steven Rossi, Cogent Group Principal Dana Goldsmith Needleman and Alden President and MNG Vice Chairman Heath Freeman. 



Those elected to the Gannett board include John Jeffry Louis, John E. Cody, Stephen W. Coll, Donald E. Felsinger, Lila Ibrahim, Lawrence S. Kramer, Debra A. Sandler and Chloe R. Sladden.

“Consistent with the interactions with our investors leading up to the meeting, this outcome demonstrates that Gannett shareholders recognize the continued progress we have made toward our ongoing digital transformation and agree that our strategic plan is the best path to deliver value for all Gannett shareholders,” Gannett stated.

“Our shareholders also understand that the broad and diverse backgrounds, professional experiences and skills of our directors make them uniquely qualified to oversee Gannett’s achievement of its strategic objectives and transformation plan.”

Following the release of the results, MNG stated: “This is a win for an entrenched Gannett Board that has been unwilling to address the current realities of the newspaper business, and sadly a loss for Gannett and its shareholders.

“Gannett’s newspapers are critical local resources, and we hope that Gannett’s incumbent Board and Management shift course to embrace a modern approach to local news that will save newspapers and serve communities. That would be the best outcome.  If Gannett’s Board does not shift course from overpaying for non-core, aspirational and dilutive digital deals, we believe the stock will drop further.”

Gannett has been reassuring its shareholders over the past months that it has a feasible plan to become a digital-first publisher, while carefully managing costs. 

Despite a drop in revenue in its first-quarter results, the company reported a surge in digital subscribers. The company reported its digital-only subscriber volume grew 39% year-over-year, now totaling around 538,000.
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