Activist investor Carl Icahn has acquired a 6.6 percent stake in Gannett, saying the media conglomerate preparing to split in two is "undervalued."
Icahn late Thursday made the announcement in a tweet, linking to a regulatory filing this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to the filing, Icahn began buying Gannett shares in mid-June through his investment firms and continued through Thursday.
The stock purchases were made "in the belief that they were undervalued and that value could be created by splitting the issuer into separate print and broadcast companies."
The billionaire investor has a long history of taking positions in companies that give him the leverage to force changes in management or provide dividends to shareholders.
Icahn's filing said that until now his representatives have had no contact with Gannett but that they "intend to have discussions" with Gannett "relating to the planned separation, corporate governance, capitalization and capital allocation."
Gannett on August 5 announced plans to split into two separate firms, one for broadcast and digital, and the other for newspapers including its national daily USA Today.
The news came after several other media groups including Tribune Co., News Corp. and Time Warner had made similar moves to spin off their print operations that are struggling compared with other parts of the media business.
Gannett will create a new publicly traded broadcasting and digital company, which has yet to be named, and which will remain headquartered in McLean, Virginia.
The unit includes 46 television stations including network affiliates in the top 25 US markets. It also will include Cars.com and the online jobs site CareerBuilder.com.
The publishing group, which will retain the Gannett name, will include USA Today as well as 81 other daily newspapers, some 200 weeklies and magazines, and the community news service Newsquest.