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Shares of Gannett  (GCI - Get Report) rose 1.3% to $7.73 on Thursday following a report that the media giant held merger talks with Gatehouse Media.

Citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, The Wall Street Journal reported that the McLean, Virginia-based company, which owns USA Today, also discussed deals with Tribune Publishing (TPCO - Get Report) and McClatchy Co. (MNI - Get Report) .

The deal with Gatehouse would unite the two largest newspaper chains in the U.S. Neither company immediately responded to requests for comment.

Gannett operates more than 100 newspaper operations in 34 states and 160 online news brands in the U.K. GateHouse publishes 156 daily newspapers, 464 community publications, and operates in more than 615 local markets in 39 states.

Earlier this month, Gannett shareholders beat back an attempt to replace its board. The company said its slate of eight directors had beaten opposing candidates nominated by media group MNG Enterprises vying to revive its previously rejected takeover bid for Gannett. 

MNG has gutted most of the 50 daily U.S. newspapers it owns, according to published reports.

MNG, also known as Digital First Media, had been seeking to install directors that would support its offer to buy Gannett for $12 per share, or $1.36 billion. MNG Enterprises had owned about 7.5% of Gannett's stock, but recently reduced it 4.2%.

In February, Gannett turned down an unsolicited $1.36 billion offer from MNG Enterprises, declaring the proposal was "not credible."