Sinclair Broadcast Group to sell TV stations as part of Tribune acquisition

SinclairSinclair Broadcast Group Inc is selling 23 television stations to several companies after completing its $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media.

The sales are to obtain the necessary governmental approval of the Tribune transaction, the company said, as it has worked for months to win regulatory approval for the deal.

Chris Ripley, President and CEO of Sinclair, said, “After a very robust divestiture process, with strong interest from many parties, we have achieved healthy multiples on the stations we are divesting. While we continue to believe that we had a strong and supportable rationale for not having to divest stations, we are happy to announce this significant step forward in our plan to create a leading broadcast platform with local focus and national reach. The combined company will continue to advance industry technology, including the Next Generation Broadcast Platform, and to benefit from significant revenue and expense synergies”.

Standard Media Group, an affiliate of Standard General L.P., will acquire the following nine television stations in seven markets for $441.7 million in cash:

KOKH-TV, Oklahoma City, OK (affiliated to FOX)
WXMI, Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, MI (affiliated to FOX)
WPMT, Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, PA (affiliated to FOX)
WXLV-TV, Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, NC (affiliated to ABC)
WRLH-TV, Richmond-Petersburg, VA (affiliated to FOX)
WOLF-TV (1), Wilkes Barre-Hazelton-Scranton, PA (affiliated to FOX)
WSWB (1), Wilkes Barre-Hazelton-Scranton, PA (affiliated to CW)
WQMY (1), Wilkes Barre-Hazelton-Scranton, PA (affiliated to MY)
KDSM-TV, Des Moines-Ames, IA (affiliated to FOX)
(1) Sinclair is not the licensee of these stations and will only be selling the assets of such stations that Sinclair owns, together with its right to purchase the licenses of the stations.

Meredith Corp will acquire CW-affiliated KPLR-11 in St. Louis for $65 million. Additionally, three stations are going to Howard Stirk and two are going to shared services agreement partner Cunningham Media. The buyer for the remaining seven stations is yet to be named.

USA, Hunt Valley, MD & Washington, WA & St Louis, MO & Baltimore, MD

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DLT Entertainment acquires Vera Productions

DLT EntertainmentIndependent production and distribution company DLT Entertainment has acquired production company Vera Productions. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Through the deal Vera will continue to operate as a separate company under the DLT banner but will be wholly owned by DLT Entertainment. DLT will acquire Vera’s portfolio of extensive programming, approximately 300 hours in the catalogue, with series currently represented by a number of distributors.

Vera launched in 1994, and has since produced an extensive portfolio of award-winning shows including Bremner Bird and Fortune, three series of Getting On starring Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine, and Joanna Scanlan for BBC Four, four series of Alistair McGowan’s Big Impression for BBC One, six series of Mark Thomas Product and numerous Dispatches for Channel 4, including the recent President Trump’s Dirty Secrets, Politicians for Hire and How to Buy A Football Club. In addition, Vera has produced several pieces for Channel 4 News and created Big Trouble in Thailand for Bravo, and most recently produced Million Pound Jewellers for Channel 4 Arts and three episodes of Going Forward starring Jo Brand and Omid Djalili for BBC Four.

Donald Taffner Jr., President of DLT Entertainment, said, “We have had a long regard for the shows that Vera has produced […]. DLT are not in the production company aggregation business for growth and this acquisition does not signal a change in that philosophy, but welcomes Vera to the DLT family where we will provide business and financial support while Vera Productions will continue as the production entity for its programmes. It is a very exciting time.”

UK, London

Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Inc. acquires The Weather Channel

Entertainment StudiosEntertainment Studios, one of the largest independent producers and distributors of film and television with nearly 160 million aggregate subscribers across the US, has acquired The Weather Group, parent company of The Weather Channel television network and Local Now streaming service. Byron Allen, founder and owner of Entertainment Studios, purchased the Weather Group through his company, Allen Media LLC, from The Blackstone Group, Bain Capital, and Comcast/NBC Universal.

The Weather Channel is one of the largest cable television networks not owned by a major conglomerate and is the nation’s only 24-hour source of national storm coverage. Harris Poll has ranked The Weather Channel as the “TV News Brand of the Year” for eight years in a row. The network recently launched a community platform, weloveweather.tv, to create a two-way dialogue with fans.

Allen said, “The Weather Channel is one of the most trusted and extremely important cable networks, with information vitally important to the safety and protection of our lives. We welcome The Weather Channel, which has been seen in American households for nearly four decades, to our cable television networks division. The acquisition of The Weather Channel is strategic, as we begin our process of investing billions of dollars over the next five years to acquire some of the best media assets around the world.”

USA, Los Angeles, CA & Atlanta, GA

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Keshet acquires majority stake in Greenbird Media

Keshet InternationalKeshet International, the global production and distribution arm of Israeli media giant Keshet, has acquired a majority stake in UK production company incubator, investor and biz accelerator Greenbird Media. The deal sees Keshet up its share of Greenbird and take over BBC Worldwide’s 30% stake in the company. Further details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Greenbird, a venture from Shine TV executive Jamie Munro and Stuart Mullin from Argonon, was founded in 2012 and provides independent producers with access to innovative funding models and licensing deals to support their creative productions.

KI, known for “Homeland,” “The A Word” and “Rising Star,” will become distribution partner for Greenbird Media’s production companies and boost its roster with more entertainment and factual content, while Greenbird will continue to guide its independent producers in terms of funding and licensing deals for creative productions.

Alon Shtruzman, CEO of Keshet International, said, “Greenbird Media, with its entrepreneurial and creative culture, is the perfect match for us. We share similar philosophies and values, and by combining KI’s global footprint with Greenbird Media’s stellar team, I see limitless possibilities and accelerated growth.”

Israel, Jerusalem & UK, London

 

Lagardère acquires majority stake in Skyhigh TV

LagardereThe French audiovisual production group Lagardère Studios has taken a majority stake in Dutch TV production company Skyhigh TV. The move follows the acquisition of Boomerang TV in Spain and Aito Media Group in Finland respectively in 2015 and 2017. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Skyhigh was founded in 1999 and specializes in the production and distribution of entertainment, factual and documentary programs. It is owned by its three founding shareholders: Marc Dik, Wilfred Drechsler and Bernard van den Bosch.

The largest indie television producer in the Netherlands, Skyhigh produces 35 series per year, including such successful projects as The Bully Project, Model in One Day and Teen Mom Celebrity Support.

Christophe Thoral, president of Lagardère Studios said, “The Netherlands is the third largest exporter of TV formats in the world. Our acquisition of Skyhigh TV naturally serves to further our strategy for international growth, but it will also accelerate our policy of creating and circulating formats among our various structures”.

France, Boulogne-Billancourt & Netherlands, Hilversum

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Discovery Communications Inc. completes acquisition of Scripps Networks interactive to create Discovery, Inc.

Discovery Communications IncDiscovery Communications has completed its acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive, with the combined company to be officially known as Discovery, Inc.

Scripps Networks Interactive is a leading developer of lifestyle-content for television and the Internet. The company’s brands includes HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network, Cooking Channel and country music network Great American Country.

Scripps shareholders will receive approximately $90 per share, consisting of $65.82 per share in cash and 1.0584 per share in Series C Common shares of Discovery stock valued based on a volume weighted average price (subject to elections and proration), in each case in accordance with the terms of the merger agreement. This includes a cash payment of $2.82 per share in connection with Discovery’s previously announced decision to exercise in full the cash top-up option under the merger agreement.

The acquisition is expected to be accretive to adjusted earnings per share and to free cash flow in the first year after closing, including significant cost synergies. The combination is expected to create a strong economic model with capacity for rapid debt repayment and a clear runway for growth and value creation.

Kenneth W. Lowe, former Chairman, President & CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive, will join Discovery’s board of directors, effective immediately.

David Zaslav, President and Chief Executive Officer for Discovery, said, “Today marks another critical milestone for Discovery, as we become a differentiated kind of media company with the most trusted portfolio of family-friendly brands around the globe. As a new global leader in real life entertainment, Discovery will serve loyal and passionate audiences around the world with content that inspires, informs and entertains across every screen; deliver new ways for advertisers and distributors to reach highly targeted audiences at scale; and leverage our leadership position to create new value and growth opportunities for all of our stakeholders.”

USA, Silver Spring, MD & Knoxville, TN

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Meredith Corporation completes acquisition of Time Inc.

MeredithMeredith Corporation has completed its acquisition of Time Inc., with February 2018 the first day of operations for the combined company. Time Inc. shareholders received $18.50 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $2.8 billion originally announced on 26 November 2017. Meredith also announced fiscal 2018 second quarter and first half results.

Meredith Corporation Chairman and CEO Stephen M. Lacy said, “With this acquisition, we are creating a premier media and marketing company serving 200 million American consumers that’s positioned for growth across industry-leading digital, television, print, video, mobile, and social platforms. The combined portfolio joins the rich content-creation capabilities of many of the media industry’s strongest national brands with a powerful local television business that is generating record earnings.”

USA, New York, NY & Des Moines, Iowa

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Mediawan acquires 3 major French production companies

MediawanMediawan, an independent European audiovisual content platform, is planning to acquire majority stakes in three production companies: Makever, Mon Voisin Productions and Storia Television (the company created to take over EuropaCorp’s TV business, excluding US series).

Under the terms, Mediawan (i) has acquired, through the Storia Television subsidiary, part of EuropaCorp Television’s business, and (ii) would purchase majority stakes in Makever and Mon Voisin Productions subject to the finalization of the transactional documents and to the usual conditions precedent for these types of transactions. All of these transactions could be finalized during the first quarter of 2018.

These companies gather together numerous major projects in France and internationally. They would allow Mediawan to continue supplement its premium content offering and expand its production volumes, as they represented revenues of over €50 million in 2017. Mediawan is thus strengthening its position in European independent production, notably by becoming the leading French producer of TV fiction.

Pierre-Antoine Capton, Mediawan’s Chairman of the Board, says: “These strategic investments in EuropaCorp TV, Makever and Mon Voisin Productions would be another milestone in the implementation of Mediawan’s strategy. With an extensive offering of premium content combining fiction, animated content and documentaries, Mediawan is in the best position possible to meet the substantial market demand.”

France, Paris

RTL Group acquires United Screens

RTLThe RTL Group has fully acquired United Screens, the leading multi-platform network in the Nordic countries. The transaction, which closed on 2 January 2018, provides for a price of SEK 120 million (€12.4 million) on a debt and cash-free basis subject to usual post-closing adjustments. Additionally, RTL Group plans to invest SEK 25 million (€2.6 million) to fund the company’s growth plan across the Nordic region.

United Screens generates over 500 million video views a month on YouTube and represents hundreds of influencers in music, lifestyle and entertainment across all social media platforms. The company was founded by Malte Andreasson, Stina Bergfors and Bonnier Ventures in 2013 and is based in Stockholm, Sweden, with offices in Oslo, Norway and Helsinki, Finland. Bonnier Ventures financed the company since the early start. Before the foundation of United Screens, Malte Andreasson worked as Scheduling Director for the Swedish channel TV4, while Stina Bergfors was the Country Director for Google and YouTube in Sweden. Malte Andreasson continues to head United Screens as CEO.

RTL Group CEO Bert Habets, who has become Chairman of the Board of United Screens following the transaction, said: “This acquisition is another step in accelerating our ‘Total Video’ strategy, as United Screens strengthens our MPN presence in Europe. With our highly popular creators and leading market positions in each territory, RTL Group is the only European company to offer advertisers pan-European digital video campaigns in premium and brand-safe environments.”

Luxembourg & Sweden, Stockholm

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Walt Disney set to acquire 21st Century Fox businesses for $52.4BN

walt disney companyThe Walt Disney Company has entered into an agreement to acquire 21st Century Fox, including the Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with cable and international TV businesses, for approximately $52.4 billion in stock.

Prior to the acquisition, 21st Century Fox will separate the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a newly listed company that will be spun off to its shareholders.

Combining with Disney are 21st Century Fox’s film production businesses, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000, and its storied television creative units, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Fox21. Disney will also acquire FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox Networks Group International, Star India and Fox’s interests in Hulu, Sky plc, Tata Sky and Endemol Shine Group.

Under the terms of the agreement, shareholders of 21st Century Fox will receive 0.2745 Disney shares for each 21st Century Fox share they hold. Disney will also assume approximately $13.7 billion of net debt of 21st Century Fox. The acquisition price implies a total equity value of approximately $52.4 billion and a total transaction value of approximately $66.1 billion for the business to be acquired by Disney, which includes consolidated assets along with a number of equity investments.

The acquisition is expected to yield at least $2 billion in cost savings from efficiencies realized through the combination of businesses, and to be accretive to earnings before the impact of purchase accounting for the second fiscal year after the close of the transaction.

Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, said, “We’re excited about this extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings. The deal will also substantially expand our international reach, allowing us to offer world-class storytelling and innovative distribution platforms to more consumers in key markets around the world.” Mr. Iger will continue as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company until the end of 2021.

USA, Burbank, CA & New York, NY

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