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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund known for consolidating local news companies for profit, is suing local newspaper company Lee Enterprises, days after Lee's board unanimously voted to reject Alden's hostile takeover bid.

Why it matters: It's the latest escalation of the already bitter battle between the two entities over Alden's bid for Lee.

Details: In a lawsuit filed by Strategic Investment Opportunities LLC, an affiliate of Alden, plaintiffs argue that Lee Enterprises' board infringed on company bylaws when it denied Alden's request to nominate three members to its board due to paperwork issues.

  • "The Company has breached the Bylaws and the Director Defendants have breached the fiduciary duties they owe to Opportunities in an effort to prevent the stockholders from having a say on Lee’s future through the election of directors at the Company’s next annual meeting (the “2022 Annual Meeting”)," the lawsuit reads.
  • The lawsuit also alleges that members of Lee's board "are long-time Company insiders" that they allege "have every reason to maintain the status quo and their lucrative corporate positions."
  • Alden is asking a court to order that its board nominees can stand for election at Lee's 2022 annual meeting. It also wants a court to declare that the part of Lee's bylaws about paperwork related to nominating board members be ruled "unenforceable."

What they're saying: In a statement, an Alden spokesperson alleged that Lee Enterprises' "stockholder-unfriendly staggered board" is " focused more on its own power than what's best for the company."

  • In response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Lee Enterprises said, “As we explained in detail on December 3, Alden’s director nomination notice was clearly invalid and we remain committed to acting in the best interests of all shareholders. Alden’s claims are baseless.”

The big picture: Tension has been building between the two companies ever since Alden first presented its hostile takeover bid for Lee in November.

  • Alden tried to quickly nominate board directors following Lee’s decision to reject Alden’s takeover offer using a corporate tactic called a “poison pill."

What to watch: Alden's initial offer for Lee was $24 per share. Ever since rejecting Alden's bid, Lee's share price has soared, closing at over $40 on Wednesday.

Editor's note: This post has been updated with a comment from Lee Enterprises.

Go deeper

Historians open 19th century time capsule found under Lee statue

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (center) watches as the contents of a time capsule from the pedestal that once held the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee are removed. Photo: Virginia first lady Pamela Northam/Twitter

Virginia historians on Wednesday opened a 19th century time capsule found last week in the pedestal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which was removed from Richmond's Monument Avenue this year.

What they're saying: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam denounced the monument's Confederate myth that seeks to minimize slavery's role in the American Civil War, but said the capsule's opening was "an important day for the history" of Virginia as it "gives us an idea what folks were thinking about at this time of our history," per the Washington Post.

Updated 21 mins ago - Economy & Business

S&P 500 on track for worst-ever start to year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their steepest drop of the year early Monday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its worst-ever start to a year.

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading, momentarily putting it on track to fall into a "correction." Some of the steepest losses were recovered in early afternoon trading.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Health care workers hit new breaking point

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The ranks of health care workers are dwindling and stretching what it means to be reaching their "breaking points," particularly at small nonprofit hospitals.

The big picture: Even as Omicron cases have begun to wane in some places, many hospitals are still fielding a crush of patients amid record employee callouts.