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Thursday, June 24, 1999 Published at 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK

Business: The Company File

Gannett gobbles Newsquest

The Newsquest board has not recommended the takeover to shareholders

US publishing group Gannett has launched a bid for Britain's third largest regional newspaper publisher.

Nick Wood in Darlington and Richard Quest in New York report for BBC News
The board of Newsquest, which publishes daily and weekly regional newspapers including the Northern Echo and Oxford Mail, said the offer was "serious and fair" but stopped short of urging shareholders to accept.

In a statement the board said: "However, it is also the view of the board that the offer does not represent such a compelling proposal that it could give an outright recommendation to shareholders that it is absolutely in their best interests to accept."

The cash offer of 460p per share represents a premium of about nine per cent over Newsquest's closing share price on 23 June.

Gannett, which publishes titles including USA Today, has received undertakings supporting the deal from shareholders representing 51.7 per cent of the company's shares, including the nod from Newsquest's executive directors and major shareholder Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the US buyout group.

"This acquisition is the right opportunity to expand our international operations. The management and employees of Newsquest share our commitment to serve the readers and advertisers in the communities in which we each do business," said Douglas McCorkindale, vice chairman and president of Gannett.

James Brown, executive chairman of Newsquest, said: "Gannett is a major media company and the prospect of Newsquest becoming part of Gannett represents a great opportunity for Newsquest and its employees.

"We look forward to our association with Gannett and the future benefits that will come to both companies."

Gannett is the largest US newspaper publisher, owning a string of regional papers and a number of television stations.

The Virginia-based company had profits of $800m in 1998 on sales of $5.1bn.

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