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Citizen owner seeks shareholder help in fighting off hostile takeover bid

The owner of the Auburn Citizen and other papers is asking its shareholders for help in fighting off a hostile takeover bid by a venture capital firm.

The Citizen reports Lee Enterprises sent a letter to stockholders Monday asking them to support its board nominees in fending off the bid of Alden Capital. Lee, based in Iowa, already rejected a $24 per share offer from Alden, saying the offer drastically undervalues the company. “A ‘Vulture Hedge Fund’ is seeking to acquire Lee at a steep discount. Don’t let it take value that belongs to you,” Lee said in its letter to shareholders.

In the letter, Lee asked shareholders to have faith in its efforts to shift to online delivery. The company says digital-only subscriptions at its papers have increased 65% in the past year.

Alden, one of the largest newspaper owners in the country, filed suit asking a judge to force Lee to allow shareholders to vote on Alden’s proposed slate of directors.

Lee owns the Citizen and The Post-Star in Glens Falls, as well as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Buffalo News.