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04 December 2018, 06:07 | Elsie Buchanan
Exclusive: Nexstar clinches $4.1 billion deal to acquire Tribune Media – sources
Nexstar Media Group, which has grown in just 22 years from a single Pennsylvania radio station into a local TV giant, has reportedly struck a deal to acquire Tribune Media for about $4.1 billion. The agreement also includes outstanding Tribune Media debt, which brings the total to $6.4 billion.
Their deal stalled in July after the Federal Communications Commission called for hearings about the merger. An announcement of a deal could come Monday, Reuters and other news outlets reported.
As part of a plan to win approval from federal regulators, Nexstar officials said Monday they would probably divest or swap stations in 13 of the 15 markets in which it has overlapping properties with Tribune Media. Tribune's stock (TRCO) is surging 10% in premarket trading.
Chicago-based Tribune Media owns and operates 42 local stations reaching about 50 million households.
Nexstar outbid private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC with an all-cash offer that values Tribune at around $46.50 per share, three sources said.
The deal will give a almost 16% premium on the stock price that Tribune Media shareholders were paying for the company on November 30 - $46.50 per share.
The Chicago-based company also owns national entertainment cable network WGN America, whose reach is more than 77 million households, and a number of websites. It also has a stake in the TV Food Network.
Barton Crockett, media analyst at B. Riley FBR, says the deal confirms its belief about TV stations value: "We have argued for some time that TV station groups are undervalued, and that M&A can be a road to unearthing that".
Tribune emerged from bankruptcy in late 2012 and completed a spinoff of its newspaper assets in 2014.
There has been a significant push for consolidation of local TV stations that must compete for advertising dollars with major tech companies. Privately held Cox Enterprises Inc announced in July that it was exploring strategic options, including a potential sale, for the 14 broadcast TV stations it owns in cities such as Atlanta, Boston and Memphis.
Sinclair has a politically conservative streak in the news broadcasts of many of its stations, leading to U.S. President Donald Trump to criticize the FCC over the collapse of the acquisition of Tribune Media in the summer. Sinclair chairman and former CEO David Smith, pugnacious son of the company's founder, Julian Sinclair Smith, made his feelings about regulators clear in November 2017. "This would have been a great and much needed Conservative voice for and of the People".
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