February 28, 2020 / 2:02 PM / a month ago

Hedge fund to nominate broadcasting executive Wert to Tegna's board -sources

NEW YORK, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Hedge fund Standard General is preparing to nominate a fifth director to Tegna Inc’s board one week after the broadcast company added a new director, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Tegna and Standard General have been locked in an increasingly bitter proxy battle since the middle of January when the hedge fund nominated four candidates to the board.

On Friday, the hedge fund is expected to nominate Lawrence Wert, a former Tribune Media Company executive who has years of local television broadcasting experience, the sources said. At Tribune, Wert was responsible for overseeing the strategy and day-to-day activities of the company’s owned or operated television and radio stations.

A spokesman for Tegna was not immediately available for comment.

Standard General, the owner of roughly 9.7% of Tegna, has urged the company, which has a market capitalization of roughly $3.1 billion, to consider selling itself. Hedge funds HG Vora Capital Management and Donerail are also pushing for changes to be made at a time of consolidation in the broadcast station space that could leave smaller players like Tegna vulnerable.

Standard General stepped up its fight amid concerns that Tegna management had rebuffed an offer from a potential buyer, but Tegna said there was no real offer to consider.

The hedge fund is adding Wert, 63, to its slate one week after the company expanded the 11-person board by adding Karen Grimes, an investment management executive who retired from Wellington Management two years ago.

One of Standard General’s criticisms is that Tegna’s board members have little broadcasting industry operating experience.

The hedge fund’s slate includes its founding partner and chief investment officer, Soohyung Kim, as well as Deborah McDermott, Ellen McClain Haime and Colleen Brown.

As a group, the nominees would bring expertise in strategic planning, capital markets, mergers and acquisitions as well as operating experience in television broadcasting to Tegna’s board, the hedge fund has said.

Tegna has expressed concerns about Kim’s prior business and board service, and the hedge fund said last week that the company had approached it to explore a settlement “with the pre-condition for discussions that Tegna would not add Soo Kim of Standard General to its board.” (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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