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Nexstar clinches $4.1 bln deal to acquire Tribune Media -sources

Reuters 

By O'Donnell and B. Baker

(Reuters) - Media Group Inc has reached an agreement to acquire for about $4.1 billion, a deal which would make it the largest local U.S. TV station operator, people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

Nexstar's acquisition would come just three months after Tribune's $3.9 billion deal to sell itself to , currently the largest U.S. local TV station operator, collapsed over regulatory hurdles. [nL4N1V042M]

outbid private equity firm with an all-cash offer that values Tribune at around $46.50 per share, three sources said. Tribune shares ended trading on Friday at $40.26.

Nexstar, which has a market capitalization of $3.8 billion, has lined up banks to provide debt financing for the deal, the sources added.

The agreement between and Tribune Media could be announced by Monday, according to the sources.

The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Tribune and Apollo declined to comment, while Nexstar and Sinclair did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tribune terminated its deal with Sinclair in August, and filed a lawsuit arguing that the latter mishandled efforts to get the transaction approved by taking too long and being too aggressive in its dealings with regulators.

However, since then the has seen a flurry of merger talks, amid expectations that the (FCC) could relax restrictions on how many stations broadcasters can operate. The FCC has yet to vote on the matter.

Based in Irving, Texas, Nexstar owns, operates and provides to 174 television stations reaching nearly 39 percent of all U.S. television households. Apollo also approached Nexstar this summer about acquiring it, but was rebuffed, previously reported. [nL1N1U70NF]

Based in Chicago, Tribune Media owns or operates 42 local television stations reaching approximately 50 million households. It also owns national America, whose reach is more than 77 million households, and a variety of and websites commanding 54 million monthly unique visitors online, according to its website. It also has a stake in the

Tribune emerged from bankruptcy in late 2012 and completed a spinoff of its newspaper assets in 2014.

More TV station deals are in the works. Privately held 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, and

Sinclair is currently also pursuing its own separate deal, having partnered with private equity firm to bid for the regional sports networks that is selling following its deal to merge most of its assets with , sources have previously said.

When it came to the previous Tribune Media deal, FCC said Sinclair did not "fully disclose facts" relating to the planned sale of three stations, including pre-existing business relationships the company had with

Sinclair has a politically conservative streak in the broadcasts of many of its stations, leading to U.S. to criticize the FCC over the collapse of the acquisition of Tribune Media in the summer. [nL1N1UL140]

"So sad and unfair that the FCC wouldn't approve the Sinclair Broadcast merger with Tribune. This would have been a great and much needed Conservative voice for and of the People," Trump wrote on last July.

(Reporting by O'Donnell and B. in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, December 02 2018. 23:50 IST
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