Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Report: Sinclair ThisClose To Buying Tribune TV Stations

Two of the biggest TV-station owners in the US are nearing a deal for a multibillion-dollar merger that would blow past ownership limits long set by communications regulators, several sources told The NYPost.

Sinclair Broadcast Group appears ready to acquire all of Tribune Media Co.’s assets, which include stakes in the Food Network and the WGN cable network, as well as 42 local TV stations nationwide, the sources said.

President Trump’s new Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is widely expected to lift ownership caps, which currently prevent media companies from having stations reaching more than 39 percent of households. Sources say the two parties are waiting to see what the FCC does, but could also figure out ways to work around the existing rules.

Sources believe the rule change could come as soon as this week or next.

The two parties are said to be discussing a price tag of $40 to $41 a share, consisting of an almost all-stock swap plus a small amount of cash.

Tribune Media stock closed the Tuesday session at $38.03. Its shares have risen 18.9 percent over the past month. News of the Sinclair approach on March 1 was first reported by Reuters.

The huge merger is coming together in part because of a close relationship with Sinclair’s executive chairman and former CEO, David Smith, and President Trump, sources said. Smith is a well-known contributor to Republican causes.

Sinclair has a market cap of $3.7 billion and owns 173 stations, while Tribune has a market cap is $3.29 billion.

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