Sinclair Broadcast To Buy Tribune Media In $3.9 Billion Deal, Combining 2 Largest U.S. Station Owners

By Trey Williams Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. said on Monday it is set to acquire Tribune Media Co. for $3.9 billion, which represents an 8% premium to Tribune shares' Friday close and roughly a 26% premium to the shares' close on Feb. 28, or the day before media speculation of a possible deal. Shares of Tribune rose more than 5% in premarket trade following the news. The deal combines two of the largest TV station owners in the U.S. Tribune owns and operates 42 TV stations in 33 markets, along with cable network WGN America and minority stakes in the TV Food Network. "The Tribune stations are highly complementary to Sinclair's existing footprint," said Sinclair Chief Executive Chris Ripley in a statement. He went on to say the acquisition will allow the company to build out its next generation broadcast platform, scale emerging networks and national sales, and integrate content verticals. Sinclair may have to sell stations in markets where it currently owns stations, in order to comply with ownership requirements and antitrust regulations set by the Federal Communications Commission, the company said. Shares of Sinclair were inactive in premarket trade, but have gained nearly 11% in the year to date, while Tribune is up more than 15%. By comparison, the S&P 500 index is up 7% in the year.

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