Two Tronc executives will meet with potential investors next week as part of a road show to boost the company’s stock, The Post has learned.
The move is a strong indication that talks between Tronc (formerly known as Tribune Publishing) and Gannett (publisher of USA Today) over a roughly $18.50-a-share bid for the Chicago-based Tronc aren’t going so well.
While some Tronc shareholders are pushing the company to accept the sweetened offer, Chairman Michael Ferro is holding out for more than $20 a share, sources said.
The road show will feature Tronc Chief Executive Justin Dearborn and Chief Financial Officer Terry Jimenez. Ferro is not expected to attend those meetings, sources said.
“As is standard practice for publicly traded companies, members of Tronc’s management team have agreed to participate in a non-deal roadshow with prospective investors. The roadshow was arranged by a firm that provides analyst coverage on the company,” said a spokesperson for the company.
The offer from Gannett for the publisher of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times is 20 percent more than the $15 bid offered in May.
Ferro quickly cast aside the first offer.
Tronc’s shares rose 9 cents, to $17.08, on Wednesday.
At the road-show meetings in New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis, Dearborn and Jimenez are expected to tell prospective investors that third-quarter financials are looking better than estimates, a source planning to attend the road show said.
“They are trying to get guys to bid up the stock,” a source said.
Tronc’s strategy comes as the pressure mounts.
Last week, activist investor HG Vora announced it had accumulated a 14.9-percent stake in Tronc, including a swaps agreement, and urged Ferro to consider a sale.
“As each day passes, the question of what Ferro is going to do becomes a bigger question,” a Tronc investor said.
CNBC host Jim Cramer has even put Ferro on his executive Wall of Shame, infuriating the 50-year-old executive, a source said.