Shareholders cleared the way Thursday for New Media Investment Group and USA TODAY owner Gannett to join forces in a deal that will create the largest U.S. media company by print circulation, and one that will also vie for the biggest online news audience nationwide.

Shareholders cleared the way Thursday for New Media Investment Group and USA TODAY owner Gannett to join forces in a deal that will create the largest U.S. media company by print circulation, and one that will also vie for the biggest online news audience nationwide. 

In separate votes, shareholders of each company approved New Media's $1.13 billion acquisition of Gannett. The companies can now move forward to finalize the deal, which is expected to close Tuesday, Nov. 19, "subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions," New Media said in a statement.

The combined company will be called Gannett and will own more than 260 daily publications, as well as hundreds of weeklies. The new company will reach an average monthly online audience of more than 145 million unique visitors, according to traffic measurement firm Comscore.

The deal "gives us a much broader platform on which to build our digital businesses and to help each of these local markets to become engines of growth for us from a digital perspective," Gannett CEO Paul Bascobert said Thursday at the company's shareholder meeting, where the vote results were revealed. "Our commitment to build those brands is even stronger than ever."