(Adds additional sourcing, timing of announcement)
By Liana B. Baker
Aug 4 Gannett Co Inc, one of the
newspaper owners of Cars.com, is nearing an agreement to buy the
portion of the auto-sales website that it does not already own
for $1.8 billion, people familiar with the matter said on
The deal, which a source said could be announced as early as
Tuesday, would be the latest step for Gannett, the largest U.S.
newspaper chain and publisher of USA Today, to diversify its
business away from newspapers.
Gannett has been snapping up broadcast TV stations to
bolster its portfolio against declining advertising revenue and
newspaper readership. It spent $1.5 billion on buying the
broadcaster Belo last year, nearly doubling its broadcast TV
holdings to more than 40 stations.
The deal will also bolster Gannett's digital portfolio,
which includes a stake in the recruitment website CareerBuilder.
A spokesman for Gannett declined to comment while a
representative for Cars.com did not return a request for
Gannett is one of the five newspaper publishers that back
Classified Ventures, the entity that owns Cars.com. Before the
deal, it had a 27 percent stake in Cars.com, which lets users
check prices, compare models and read reviews of auto dealers.
The owners that will be bought out by Gannett are Tribune Media
Co, McClatchy Co, A.H. Belo Corp and Graham
After the news broke late Monday, shares in McClatchy rose
12 percent in after-hours trading, while shares in Dallas
Morning News publisher A.H. Belo rose 6 percent.
While Gannett would take control of the company, which is
valued at $2.5 billion, the previous owners of Cars.com have an
agreement in place to sell ads and generate revenue for five
Reuters reported in May that Gannett was exploring a bid for
the entire company. Bloomberg News first
reported on Monday that Gannett had agreed to a deal.
(Reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and