Lee Enterprises Getting Pressure From Backer To Add Digital-Savvy Directors


     Newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises, whose holdings include the Chadron Record, successfully fought off a hostile takeover from one hedge fund but is now getting pressure to make changes from a fund that helped fight off the attack.

     Cannell Capital was already Lee’s largest shareholder, but has recently purchased another nearly 20,000 more shares to give it a 9.1% stake and Carlo Cannell says he thinks Lee needs to add new digital-savvy leaders to its board and executive pool

      When Lee rejected the takeover attempt by Alden Global Capital, Cannell Capital agreed that the company was heading in the right direction with its new emphasis on digital subscriptions. 

      Carlo Cannell said in an interview that he has “some confidence in management, not a lot,” adding that he has “great or very little confidence in the board depending on which board member you are referring to.”

      Cannell has been prodding Lee to make similar changes for several years, a 2019 campaign encouraging shareholders to vote against Lee Chairman Mary Junck and announcing last Sept that it planned to vote against all the incumbent board members. 

      Cannell and Praetorian Capital, which also owns a large stake in Lee, questioned the amount of money spent on advisors to hold off the Alden Global takeover bid but Praetorian isn’t necessarily backing Cannell’s call for changes in the board.

      Harris Kupperman, the investor who leads Praetorian, has indicated he is more comfortable with the company’s current direction and leadership.

     Lee calls itself a leading provider of local news, information, and advertising in 77 markets in 26 states.

     Its papers include the Rapid City Journal, Casper Star-Tribune, Scottsbluff Star Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, Omaha World Herald, and most of the other papers in Nebraska.