Media General Inc. will meet with a hedge fund seeking to improve profitability by nominating directors to the board at the family-owned newspaper publisher and television station operator.
Mario J. Gabelli, whose investment company is one of Media General’s largest shareholders, said he plans to host a meeting April 1 between Media General and investment group Harbinger Capital Partners.
The forum will allow institutional investors to question Marshall Morton, Media General’s president and chief executive, and Harbinger Vice President Joseph Cleverdon, Gabelli said late Monday. Harbinger holds about 18 percent of the Class A shares of the publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Tampa Tribune and Winston-Salem Journal.
Morton has accepted the invitation for the meeting in New York, said Media General spokesman Ray Kozakewicz.
Last week, Harbinger said it is nominating a slate of candidates for the company’s board because Media General “has lost strategic, operational and geographic focus in recent years,” according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company has urged shareholders to oppose Harbinger’s nominees, calling the move hostile and ill-advised, and said it expects each of the directors elected by its commonly held Class A stock to be re-elected at its annual meeting April 24. Harbinger, along with the investment firm Firebrand Partners, also is seeking board seats at The New York Times Co.
Besides its three metropolitan newspapers, Media General owns 22 daily community newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina, more than 150 weekly newspapers and other publications and 23 network-affiliated television stations.
Shares of Media General climbed 74 cents to $15.11 on Tuesday.