By Roger Yu
and Kim Hjelmgaard
USA Today
Gannett, the owner of USA
Today and the Great Falls Tribune,
said Tuesday that it will
create two publicly traded
companies next year as it
moves to separate its broadcasting
and digital businesses
from its publishing division,
a strategic move similarly
adopted by competitors
to shield more profitable
business lines from the decline
in print advertising.
“The bold actions we are
announcing today are significant
next steps in our ongoing
initiatives to increase
shareholder value by building
scale, increasing cash
flow, sharpening management
focus and strengthening
all of our businesses to
compete effectively in today’s
increasingly digital
landscape,” Gracia Martore,
Gannett’s CEO, said in a
The planned spinoff of the
publishing business, including
USA Today, 81 other daily
newspapers and their affiliated
websites, will be implemented
through a tax-free
distribution of its publishing
assets to shareholders. The
publishing business, which
will retain the name Gannett,
will be “virtually debt-free”
after the separation as the
broadcasting and digital
company will retain the existing
debt. Robert J. Dickey,
currently president of Gannett’s
U.S. Community Publishing
division, will become
CEO of the publishing company.
The broadcasting and
digital company, which will
be renamed and headed by
Martore, will own or provide
services to 46 television stations
and operate several
websites that are not tied to
newspapers. Gannett also
said Tuesday that it will buy
all shares it doesn’t
already own from Classified
Ventures, totaling about 73
percent, for $1.8. billion in
cash, and the move nearly
doubles its digital business.
Gannett said it anticipates
the initial combined dividend
of the two companies “will
not be less than” Gannett’s
current 20 cents per share
issued quarterly.