Sound the bugle: Breeders’ cup is Louisville-bound; BBB’s got a new chief, and Gannett’s on the prowl

Latest business news, with a special focus on big Louisville employers; updated at 4:42 p.m.

CHURCHILL DOWNS said this morning it would host the Breeders’ Cup in 2018; the high-profile two-day series of races brings together top American and international thoroughbreds. The track has hosted the event eight times, most recently in 2010 and 2011 (Wall Street Journal).

BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU chief Charles Mattingly is retiring after 20 years as head of the staff of the organization that serves Louisville, Southern Indiana and much of western Kentucky. Reanna Smith-Hamblin, the agency’s vice president of communications, is replacing him (CJ). The press release. Mattingly was paid about $143,000 a year, according to the BBB’s 2014 tax return, the most recent available on GuideStar.

Courier-Journal logoGANNETT has offered to buy the Tribune Co., which owns some of the nation’s largest dailies, including The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, for $815 million cash. The surprise offer unveiled an hour ago for Tribune’s eight papers represents a 63% premium over the company’s closing price Friday. The offer could ignite a bidding war for some of the dailies, especially the Hollywood-centric Los Angeles title, which has previously attracted interest from several high-profile investors (CNBC). In a letter to Tribune released this morning, Gannett said it had made its offer April 12, and was “disappointed” that Tribune had rejected it out of hand. The company, which in addition to The Courier-Journal and USA Today, owns about 100 other dailies, made clear that it would not give up without a fight. “As we have indicated previously,” the letter says, “we would prefer to negotiate a transaction with Tribune, but we have determined that making your stockholders aware of our all-cash proposal is necessary, given Tribune’s attempts to delay constructive engagement.” (Press release, including letter.) But Tribune’s board issued its own statement, saying it’s “committed to acting in the best interests of shareholders and will respond to Gannett as quickly as feasible (statement). In pre-market trading, Tribune’s shares soared 61%, suggesting Wall Street doesn’t expect a higher bid yet. Gannett’s stock was up 2%, pre-market.

GE: A union that represents 200 workers says it will fight efforts by the company to outsource work at Appliance Park (Insider Louisville).

HOME SALES in Louisville jumped 12% last month to 911 houses and condos vs. 812 in March 2015, the local Realtors Association says. The median price rose less than 1% to $149,000 vs. $148,000. All data including for Bullitt and Oldham counties in press release.

In other news,  U.S. stock index futures traded lower this morning, ahead of major central bank meetings and the busiest week of first-quarter earnings season.

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