Day: August 27, 2016

Report: CJ parent Gannett raised hostile bid 20% during meeting with L.A. Times owner; deal appears closer than ever

The latest Gannett offer for rival newspaper publisher Tronc is in the mid-$18-a-share range vs. the last known offer of $15, and came during a face-to-face meeting in Los Angeles with Gannett CEO Bob Dickey; Gannett chairman John Jeffry Louis; Tronc chairman Michael Ferro, and Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn.

CJ August 27 2016
Today’s front page.

That’s according to a report yesterday by industry watcher Ken Doctor of Politico, who’s been bird-dogging the unfolding drama. He says Ferro might agree to a deal at $20 or slightly less.

Wall Street took Doctor’s report seriously enough to bid up Tronc’s TRNC as much as 8% yesterday, before it slid back to a closing price of $16.84, up 3% for the day. Gannett’s GCI closed at $11.93, down less than 1%.

A deal for the owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, nine other large newspapers, plus dozens of smaller titles, could have far-reaching implications for The Courier-Journal and its 108 sister titles, depending on how Gannett reallocates personnel and financial resources to absorb the Tronc titles. Louisville is a regional headquarters for a customer service center and a page-production hub handling design work for other dailies in the chain.

Tronc logoDoctor’s latest story is revealing because it’s the first to report the $18 figure — until yesterday, reports only said Gannett was preparing an unspecified higher bid — and it shows Ferro and the board are now engaged in talks. Previously, Tronc had refused to even negotiate, despite pressure from a major hedge fund investor.

Underscoring that last point, Ferro and the board met a week ago to discuss a counter-offer, although it’s unclear whether one was formally made to Gannett, Doctor says. Still, his conclusion yesterday: “It’s apparently no longer a question of whether to sell or not, but for how much.”

With its Extra Crispy sunscreen going for $202 on eBay, KFC gave away 3,000 more rare bottles; plus, starting today: a Snapchat lens for fans to ‘Colonel-ize’ themselves

A news summary, focused on 10 big employers; updated 10:22 a.m.

eBay KFC sunscreen 500
An Alabama eBay seller is accepting bids through Monday.

KFC might want to get into the sunscreen business permanently. The chain offered another 3,000 free bottles of its fried chicken-scented Colonel Sanders Extra Crispy Sunscreen yesterday — and emptied its inventory immediately — after the marketing stunt succeeded far more than the fast-food chain expected when it launched Monday. The second round began yesterday for U.S. residents-only, but the order form is already gone, replaced with a notice saying “incredible free offer all gone.”

KFC suncreen offer already goneInitially, the Yum unit promised 3,000 bottles on a first-come, first-served basis. “But the Colonel forgot to hit the ‘off switch,'” the company said in a press release, “which resulted in more than 9,000 bottles requested in about two hours, with 5,000 of those requests in the final 10 minutes.”

The bottles were so popular, at least four are now being auctioned on eBay, with one seller in Birmingham, Ala., showing a current high bid of $202.50 — the highest of 55 so far; offers are being accepted through Monday. Bids on the other three bottles by different sellers now stand at $51 to $97.

Meanwhile today, KFC introduced a Snapchat lens that let’s  fans “Colonel-ize” themselves — “glasses, bowtie, goatee, age spots and all” — in a campaign to duplicate the success sister chain Taco Bell had with a Cinco de Mayo promotion last spring.

KFC Snapchat lens
You can look like  this.

The Snapchat lens capitalizes on the popularity of the chain’s series of TV commercials portraying resurrected versions of very long-dead KFC founder Harland Sanders — including the current version, famously suntanned actor George Hamilton, who plays the “Extra Crispy” one.

“Starring as the Colonel in our advertising may be an exclusive gig, but on Saturday, anyone can be the Colonel on Snapchat,” the company says.

For Boulevard readers over the age of, say, 14, here’s a more technical explanation, no doubt supplied by the mobile app company itself: “Sponsored lenses offer Snapchatters the ability to apply real-time visual effects and sounds to their selfies, allowing brands to take part in communication on the platform in the most interactive, fun, and personal way.”

KFC is aiming for the same result Taco Bell scored last spring, when its Cinco de Mayo lens smashed Snapchat records. That campaign turned consumers’ heads into a giant taco shell, resulting in 224 million views in one day, according to AdWeek.

GE Hair logoGE: A former GE Appliances employee has sued General Electric, saying he was singled out, harassed and ultimately fired for being transgender. Mykel Mickens worked at Appliance Park from October 2014 to June of this year. He says co-workers turned on him when they discovered he once was a woman named Michelle. It appears his suit is against GE Appliances, rather than the parent company that owned the division until late June, when China-based Haier bought it for $5.6 billion. Last night, GE Appliances told WDRB that it doesn’t comment on matters in litigation, but said the company “embraces diversity and supports organizations like our LGBT group” (WDRB).

Former parent company GE’s gambit to morph into something akin to a Silicon Valley start-up began five years ago, when it quietly opened a software center in San Ramon, Calif., 24 miles east of San Francisco. The complex, home to GE Digital, now employs 1,400 people (New York Times).