Gannett, parent company of the State Journal-Register, got good news this week with refinancing of a loan used to close a 2019 deal that created the nation's largest newspaper company – Gannett, formerly known as GateHouse Media, owns more than 260 publications, including 23 in Illinois. The $1.8 billion loan from Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm, came with an eye-popping 11.5 percent interest rate and a 2024 maturity date. The refinancing announced this week cuts the interest rate on $1 billion of the debt to 7.75 percent, extends the maturity date to 2026 and comes after $500 million of the Apollo loan was refinanced in November, lowering that portion of the debt to 6 percent and extending the maturity date from 2024 to 2027. Gannett figures that the most recent refinancing will save $90 million a year in interest payments; the November refinancing is supposed to trim $28 million in annual interest costs. Refinancing does not appear to mean that the company will hire hordes of reporters and supply them with free newsroom popcorn. In a Groundhog Day eve message to Gannett employees, Mike Reed, Gannett chief executive officer, wrote that paying down debt remains a top priority. Investors have cheered, with Gannett shares quadrupling in value during the past three months. Take that, GameStop.

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