Carl Icahn Takes Activist Stake in Gannett Co., Inc. (GCI); Plans to Discuss Split of Company with the Board

A 13D filing has revealed that the notorious activist investor Carl Icahn is now a shareholder of Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI). The prominent investor has snatched up nearly 15 million shares in the company, giving him a 6.6% stake which may now make him the second largest shareholder in the company. CNBC’s Dominic Chu broke the story last night.

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“[…] Carl Icahn, who has declared in a regulatory position, a 13D filing, that they have taken a stake of 6.63% in broadcaster and news corporation Gannett Company, GCI the ticker there. Those shares about 6% to the upside in the after hours session,” Chu said.

Chu added that Icahn initiated a stake in Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI) because he believes firstly that the stock is undervalued, but also that he believes the company can attain more value by splitting into separate entities to individually manage the print and broadcast properties of the company.

While Icahn has not had discussions concerning such a split, it was reported by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI) themselves on August 5 that they were already planning for this, which may indeed signal why Icahn has made his move now. Icahn has said he will have discussions over the split with Gannett, as well as concerning other aspects of their operations.

Interestingly, the breaking news and soaring shares in after-hours trading yesterday followed some unusual options trading activity on the Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI) stock on Wednesday, when its average volume of call options was 194% greater than normal. Analysts at Jefferies Group and FBR Capital had both raised their price targets on shares by $4.00 early last week, to $39.00 and $40.00 respectively.

Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI) manages a number of print, broadcast, and media properties, including USA Today, BLiNQ Media, Newsquest, and 23 TV stations.

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