Denver Post downtown

Since Digital First Media bought the Denver Post, the paper’s staff has shrunk, prompting outrage from news-industry unions.

Gannett Co. Inc. said Monday that its board of directors had unanimously rejected Denver-based Digital First Media’s offer to buy the USA Today publisher for $1.4 billion.

Digital First, a hedge-fund-backed media company officially known as MNG Enterprises Inc., made a bid to buy the publisher for $12 a share in cash last month.

In Colorado, Digital First -- the nation's third-largest newspaper chain by total circulation -- publishes the Denver Post, Boulder Daily Camera and newspapers in Akron, Broomfield, Brush, Burlington, Estes Park, Lamar, Longmont and Sterling.

> RELATED: Denver Post parent Digital First hires financial adviser to press bid for USA Today owner

McLean, Virginia-based Gannett, the No. 1 U.S. newspaper chain, publishes the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Shares of Gannett fell 1.5% in premarket trading Monday. Its stock has risen roughly 15% since the proposed offer was announced.

Gannett’s board called into question the credibility of the unsolicited proposal  and believes the bid undervalues the company and isn’t in the best interests of Gannett or its shareholders, the company said in a statement.

> RELATED: Denver Post owner's hostile bid for Gannett rattles news industry

Representatives at Digital First weren’t immediately available for comment.

Gannett said that Digital First had never sought to engage the company about the acquisition prior to an initial report by The Wall Street Journal of its offer or its letter and public announcement the following day.

The company also said Digital First didn’t provide any information on how it would finance the deal or address any potential regulatory setbacks.

Gannett also said it offered to meet with Digital First’s representatives, but was told that it would need to sign a nondisclosure agreement before talks could proceed.

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