Carl Icahn Exercises Options For 12.23M Gannett Co. Shares

Carl Icahn now officially owns an additional 12.23 million shares of Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), SEC filings show. He exercised call options to acquire those shares at an exercise price of $20.15 per share.

He owns 14.97 million shares of Gannett now, which amounts to a 6.63% stake in the newspaper company, according to a post on Insider Monkey, which was first to report Icahn’s exercise of the call options. In Icahn’s last 13F filing at the end of the June quarter, his firm held 2.73 million shares of Gannett.

Gannett to separate news businesses

Currently Gannett runs a number of news and marketing companies covering a broad spectrum. The company owns USA Today, Newsquest, BLiNQ Media and 23 local television stations.

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The company is joining a flood of media companies that have separated their broadcasting businesses from their publishing businesses. Gannett said in August that it will separate its business into two companies that are both publicly traded. One will hold its digital and broadcasting businesses, while the other holds its publishing arm. The company plans to implement the publishing business by distributing its publishing assets to shareholders in a tax-free distribution.

In addition, Gannett will buy, of which it already holds 27%. That acquisition is expected to close in the December quarter this year, assuming that regulators approve it.

Carl Icahn not the only one betting on Gannett

Last week, a clerical error made it look like Carl Icahn had raised his stake in Gannett. However, his filing was actually about Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:HTZ)—if one took time to read the whole filing. It also showed that he was exercising options on Hertz as well rather than raising his stake. Gannett’s name wasn’t actually mentioned in that filing, which has since been removed from the SEC’s online file system. This time though, the filing does mention Gannett, so it looks to be the real deal.

According to Insider Monkey, John Rogers’ Ariel Investments and Ric Dillon’s Diamond Hill Capital also have significant stakes in Gannett. Rogers’ firm holds 6.73 million shares, while Dillon’s owns 4.92 million shares.