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Shares of Tribune Publishing soar on buyout speculation

Shares of Tribune Publishing surged nearly 20 percent on Tuesday after The Post reported that McClatchy Co. was preparing to make a second offer to buy the publisher of the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News and other papers.

The Post reported exclusively late Sunday that McClatchy — the owner of papers including the Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee and Kansas City Star — was preparing to make a new bid as soon as this week, only two months after its last offer was rejected at the eleventh hour in mid-December.

McClatchy is said to be working with Evercore as it stalks Tribune Publishing for a second time in two months.

The stock was up nearly 18.3 percent at $12.40 as of 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

McClatchy’s previous offer, at $16.50 a share, was reported to include $15 in cash and $1.50 in stock in a combined company. After the December rebuff, the stock had slumped, and a new deal is not expected to require as hefty a price.

One of McClatchy’s chief backers is Chatham Asset Management, a New Jersey-based hedge fund run by secretive investor Anthony Melchiorre that is also the principal owner of American Media, the parent of the controversial supermarket tabloid National Enquirer.

Tribune’s former chairman Michael Ferro was said to have objected to the previous offer at the last minute. While he does not have a seat on the board, his 26 percent share of the common stock still gives him behind-the-scenes influence.

Sources say Ferro is frustrated over the continuing lack of a deal and now is more open to an offer. He is said to feel that the best deal for rolling up smaller regional publishers in the embattled industry would be a Tribune-Gannett merger. But time may be running short for those two companies to resume talks.

A spokeswoman for McClatchy declined to comment.

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