Gannett Co. GCI 0.25 % has privately sweetened its bid for Tronc Inc., TRNC -0.65 % according to people familiar with the matter, hoping to overcome resistance to a sale from the parent of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.
Details of the new overture, which comes after Tronc rejected a prior bid of $ 15 a share, couldn’t be learned. Tronc is expected to respond by the end of the week, some of the people said, indicating that Gannett’s long pursuit of the storied newspaper chain may soon come to a head.
Gannett first bid in April for its smaller rival, then called Tribune Publishing. That bid, at $ 12.25 a share, and the subsequent increase were rejected by Tronc, whose Chairman Michael W. Ferro Jr. has repeatedly said the company is worth more.
Gannett, owner of USA Today, has been seeking to build scale in a newspaper industry suffering from steep declines in advertising revenue. It made its move for Tronc just after competing the $ 280 million acquisition of Journal Media Group, a deal that added daily newspapers in nine states.
Gannett reported a 77% net income decline in the last quarter.
Tronc, which also owns the Orlando Sentinel and Baltimore Sun among other titles, has a market value of $ 550 million after its shares soared as a result of Gannett’s interest.
One of its largest investors, Oaktree Capital OAK 0.09 % Management, has urged the company to negotiate with Gannett and accused its board of acting contrary to the best interests of public stockholders when it sold Mr. Ferro a large block of shares in February and subsequently named him chairman.
Gannett raised its offer in May and urged Tribune investors to withhold support at the company’s annual meeting from Mr. Ferro and other directors, many of whom are associates of his. About 40% of Tribune shareholders withheld votes from Mr. Ferro and Chief Executive Justin Dearborn.
Tribune in June unveiled its new name. It is an acronym of sorts for Tribune Online Content, reflecting a new digital focus for the 169-year-old publisher, which now bills itself as a “content curation and monetization company.”
With its 100-plus small-and midmarket dailies in addition to USA Today, Gannett already is by far the largest newspaper publisher by circulation in the country. Adding Tronc’s papers would give it control of nearly 20% of a market in which 41 million papers are sold every day, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.
—Lukas I. Alpert contributed to this article.