Hedge fund Alden Global Capital proposes purchase of Lee Enterprises, parent of Wisconsin State Journal

MADISON, Wis. — Hedge fund Alden Global Capital on Monday announced a non-binding offer to buy newspaper company Lee Enterprises, the owner of the Wisconsin State Journal and more than half a dozen other papers in the state.

In a news release, Alden offered Lee $24 per share in cash, a “substantial premium of approximately 30%” over Lee’s stock price at the close of business on Friday. The total purchase would come in at around $141 million.

Lee’s stock price climbed more than 25% on Monday to more than $23 following the announcement.

Davenport, Iowa-based Lee operates news outlets in 77 markets in 26 states. In southern Wisconsin, it owns the Wisconsin State Journal, La Crosse Tribune, Baraboo News Republic, Beaver Dam Daily Citizen, Portage Daily Register, Racine Journal Times and Kenosha News, according to its website.

Alden, which recently purchased Tribune Publishing Company, including The Chicago Tribune, has a reputation for significant cost-cutting at its newspapers, the Associated Press reports.

“We believe that as a private company and part of our successful nationwide platforms, Lee would be in a stronger position to maximize its resources and realize strategic value that enhances its operations and supports its employees in their important work serving local communities,” Alden said in the release. “Our interest in Lee is a reaffirmation of our substantial commitment to the newspaper industry and our desire to support local newspapers over the long term.”

Lee did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.