Proxy battle heats up for three Lee board seats

An activist shareholder who owns nearly 5 percent of Lee Enterprises, Inc. stock has stepped up his proxy fight to oust three board members – including the board chairman and the CEO/president of the Davenport-based media company.

J. Cano Cannell who operates Cannell Capital LLC Monday (1/28) filed additional reasons his firm is seeking to replace Board Chairman Mary Junck, CEO/President Kenneth Mowbray and board member Herbert Maloney at Lee's February 20 board meeting.

In the filing, Cannell claims Lee "cherry-picks data to suggest superior performance," citing the company's proxy to shareholders stating that digital revenue increased 6.3 percent in 2018.

Cannell's filing states digital advertising increased only 2.9 percent when excluding one extra calendar week in the quarter and an adjustment for acquisitions.

Likewise, Cannell claims subscription revenue declined 2 percent from 2017 to 2018 when those same adjustments are made, while Lee's proxy states subscription revenue increased 1.7 percent in 2018.

Cannell also claims non-employee director fees are "high and increasing."

"In the last 11 years, non-executive directors received total compensation of roughly $8.1 million," according to Cannell's report sent shareholders. "Four non-employee directors received regular hikes. Where is the cost-cutting the company claimed to be implementing?"

CLICK HERE to download Cannell Capital LLC information sent Lee shareholders.

Lee owns the QC Times and Dispatch/Argus along with 46 other daily newspapers and their associated online news sites. It also owns TownNews, a provider of software content management software to some 1,700 newspaper web sites.

Go to top