SEC to Review Lee's Bid for Pulitzer

By: (AP) Federal securities regulators will review Pulitzer Inc.'s preliminary proxy materials tied to the company's plans to be acquired by fellow newspaper publishing Lee Enterprises Inc., Pulitzer announced Tuesday.

St. Louis-based Pulitzer -- publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Arizona Daily Star -- said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange commission filing that the SEC plans to review the materials.

Pulitzer shareholders still must approve of the planned $1.46 billion deal, which both companies said they hope to close by the end of June. Scheduling of that vote rests with how quickly the SEC reviews the proxy materials.

The buyout, announced Jan. 31 and also including Lee's assuming $306 million of Pulitzer debt, already has been unanimously endorsed by the boards of both companies.

Davenport, Iowa-based Lee said the acquisition will make the company fourth in numbers of U.S. daily newspapers and seventh in circulation. It will operate 58 dailies in 23 states with combined circulation of 1.7 million daily and 2 million on Sundays.

At least two Pulitzer shareholders have sued to block the buyout, claiming that Lee's offer to pay $64 per share in cash for Pulitzer does not maximize shareholder value. The lawsuits, which name Pulitzer and its board, seek unspecified damages.

Pulitzer's holdings also include a dozen other U.S. dailies, more than 100 weekly newspapers, shoppers, and niche publications, including the Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis.

Pulitzer chose Lee over Gannett Co., the nation's biggest newspaper publisher whose 101 U.S. newspapers include USA Today.

Lee and Pulitzer have said the deal would mesh two newspaper publishers with similar cultures and values, beginning with their long histories. Lee is 114 years old and Pulitzer dates to 1878, when Joseph Pulitzer merged the St. Louis Dispatch and the Post.

Lee has 44 daily newspapers in 19 states.

Pulitzer shares slipped 6 cents and closed at $63.64 on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange, near the high end of their 52-week range of $43.71 to $65.89. Lee shares rose 17 cents to close at $43.35 on the NYSE, having traded in the range of $42.70 to $49.83 over the past year.


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