Sinclair Broadcasting to Acquire Tribune Media for Approximately $3.9 Billion; WNEP Included in Deal

CHICAGO, UNITED STATES: The Wrigley Building (L) and the Tribune Tower (R) flank either side of the Chicago River 20 April 2005, along Michigan Ave. in downtown, Chicago, Illinois. The Town of Chicago was incorporated 12 August, 1833, with a population of 350. In 2000, the population stood at 2,896,016. AFP PHOTO/JEFF HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

Tribune Media Company — including WNEP-TV — announced Monday that the company will be acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.

The companies they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Sinclair will acquire 100 percent of the issued and outstanding shares of Tribune for $43.50 per share, for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of approximately $2.7 billion in net debt, according to a release issued Monday by Tribune.

Under the terms of the agreement, Tribune stockholders will receive $35 in cash and 0.23 shares of Sinclair Class A common stock for each share of Tribune Class A common stock and Class B common stock they own. The total $43.50 per share consideration represents a premium of approximately 26 percent over Tribune’s unaffected closing share price on February 28, 2017, the day prior to media speculation regarding a possible transaction; approximately 14 percent over Tribune’s 30-day volume weighted average closing stock price; and approximately 8 percent over Tribune’s closing share price on May 5, 2017, the last trading day prior to today’s announcement.

Tribune owns or operates 42 television stations in 33 markets, cable network WGN America, digital multicast network Antenna TV, minority stakes in the TV Food Network and CareerBuilder, and a variety of real estate assets. Tribune’s stations, a list of which is available in Tribune’s most recent Form 10-K filed on March 1, 2017, consist of 14 FOX, 12 CW, 6 CBS, 3 ABC, 2 NBC, 3 MyNetworkTV affiliates and 2 independent stations. The group includes stations in the top three DMAs in the country, seven in the top 10 and 34 in the top 50 DMAs.

“This is a transformational acquisition for Sinclair that will open up a myriad of opportunities for the company,” commented Chris Ripley, President and CEO of Sinclair.  “The Tribune stations are highly complementary to Sinclair’s existing footprint and will create a leading nationwide media platform that includes our country’s largest markets. The acquisition will enable Sinclair to build ATSC 3.0 (Next Generation Broadcast Platform) advanced services, scale emerging networks and national sales, and integrate content verticals. The acquisition will also create substantial synergistic value through operating efficiencies, revenue streams, programming strategies and digital platforms.”

“This will be the largest acquisition in our company’s history, and I want to thank everyone from the Sinclair team, as well as our advisors and bankers who made this possible,” commented David Smith, Executive Chairman of Sinclair.  “Television broadcasting is even more relevant today, especially when it comes to serving our local communities.  Tribune’s stations allow Sinclair to strengthen our commitment to serving local communities and to advance the Next Generation Broadcast Platform.  This acquisition will be a turning point for Sinclair, allowing us to better serve our viewers and advertisers while creating value for our shareholders.”

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of an extensive strategic review, which has delivered significant value to our stockholders,” said Peter Kern, Tribune’s Chief Executive Officer.  “Since we announced the strategic review 15 months ago, we have streamlined the business, monetized non-core assets, strengthened our balance sheet and returned more than $800 million to stockholders — all of which has resulted in a 50% increase in stockholder value.  We are extremely proud to join Sinclair, and we’re excited that Tribune stockholders and employees will have the opportunity to participate in the long-term growth of the combined company.”

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies and is anticipated to close and fund in the fourth quarter of 2017.  Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by Tribune’s stockholders, as well as customary closing conditions, including approval by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), and antitrust clearance.

Sinclair expects to fund the purchase price at closing through a combination of cash on hand, fully committed debt financing to be provided by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Royal Bank of Canada, Deutsche Bank AG New York Branch and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and by accessing the capital markets.

To comply with FCC ownership requirements and antitrust regulations, Sinclair may sell certain stations in markets where it currently owns stations. Such divestitures will be determined through the regulatory approval process.

Including the Tribune acquisition (before any related divestitures), all previously announced pending transactions, and pro forma for expected synergies, Sinclair’s 2015 and 2016 media revenues would have been $4.070 billion and $4.603 billion, respectively.  The $6.6 billion enterprise value represents an average pro forma EBITDA multiple of less than 7.0x on the core television and entertainment business and is expected to add over 40 percent pro forma 2016/2017 free cash flow per share accretion.

Sinclair Advisors:
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor.  Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and Thomas & Libowitz P.A. acted as legal advisors to Sinclair in connection with this transaction.

Tribune Media Advisors:
Moelis & Company and Guggenheim Securities acted as financial advisors and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Covington & Burling LLP acted as legal advisors to Tribune in connection with this transaction.

Investor Call:
The senior management of Sinclair intends to hold a conference call to discuss the acquisition of Tribune on Monday, May 8, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. ET.  After the call, an audio replay will be available at http://www.sbgi.net.  The press and the public will be welcome on the call in a listen-only mode.  The dial-in number is (877) 407-8033. A slide presentation is available during the call and can be accessed at http://www.investorcalendar.com/IC/CEPage.asp?ID=175940

Tribune will release its first quarter results, and host an investor call, as previously scheduled, prior to market open, on Wednesday, May 10, 2017.  The investor call will begin at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be accessed by dialing 888-317-6003 (domestic) or 412-317-6061 (international).  The confirmation code is 2831845.

About Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.:
Sinclair is one of the largest and most diversified television broadcasting companies in the country. Pro forma for the Tribune acquisition (before any related divestitures) and all previously announced pending transactions, the Company will own, operate and/or provide services to 233 television stations in 108 markets.  The Company has multiple emerging networks as well as being affiliated with all the major networks. Sinclair is a leading local news provider in the country and a producer of live sports content. Sinclair’s content is delivered via multiple-platforms, including over-the-air, multi-channel video program distributors, and digital platforms. The Company regularly uses its website as a key source of Company information which can be accessed at http://www.sbgi.net.

About Tribune Media Company:
Tribune Media Company (NYSE: TRCO) is home to a diverse portfolio of television and digital properties driven by quality news, entertainment and sports programming. Tribune is comprised of Tribune Broadcasting’s 42 owned or operated local television stations reaching approximately 50 million households, national entertainment cable network WGN America, whose reach is approximately 80 million households, Tribune Studios, and a variety of digital applications and websites commanding 60 million monthly unique visitors online. Tribune also includes Chicago’s WGN-AM and the national multicast networks Antenna TV and THIS TV. Additionally, Tribune owns and manages a significant number of real estate properties across the U.S. and holds a variety of investments, including a 32% interest in CareerBuilder, LLC and a 31% interest in Television Food Network, G.P., which operates Food Network and Cooking Channel. For more information please visit http://www.investors.tribunemedia.com.

3 comments

  • Mike Cullison

    It appears likely that the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group will purchase the Tribune stations, several of which have long and storied legacies such as WGN, WPIX, including our local station WNEP channel 16, KPLR, WGN America, and KTLA.
    If this disastrous news holds up, the fate of several on-air and off-air employees on the payrolls at the soon-to-be former Tribune stations will be a dire one, the quality of the newscasts will suffer, and the legacies of the stations will be ruined as well. And to make things worse, expect the stations to air the mandatory right-wing propaganda pieces, shows, and specials mandated by the suits at the HQ in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Sinclair is a group well-known for its pro-Trump/GOP shilling.

  • Mike

    I wonder if the new owners will muzzle Snedeker. Love to see him squirm if he has to wear a suit and tie.

Comments are closed.