Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI) is set to merge with Fisher Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: FSCI) for $373.3 million, concluding an auction that lasted roughly three months.
The price tag represents a 44 percent premium to the closing price of Fisher common stock on Jan. 9, the final trading day prior to Fisher's announcement that it would review strategic alternatives and explore a possible sale. The company currently owns 20 television stations across eight markets and reaches almost 4 percent of the U.S. It also owns three radio stations in its Seattle home market. The stations, located throughout the northwest, include KOMO-KUNS Seattle, KATU-KUNP Portland, Ore. and KBOI-KYUU Boise, Idaho. The deal is subject to Federal Communications Commission approval and expected to close in the third quarter.
By contrast, Sinclair owns and operates 112 television stations in roughly 61 markets. Sinclair's television group reaches roughly 29.8 percent of the U.S. In recent years, it has been among the most acquisitive broadcasting companies. In November 2011, it picked up Freedom Broadcasting for $385 million. At the time, Sinclair chief financial officer David Amy told Mergers & Acquisitions that the Hunt Valley, Md., company was beginning to look at targets in the sector. In September 2011, it purchased Four Points Media from Cerberus Capital Management for $200 million.
According to a statement by Sinclair president and CEO David Smith, the deal with Fisher allows Sinclair to expand its coverage westward, especially in the Seattle and Portland markets.
Fisher tapped investment bankers John Momtazee, Evan Winkler and Anish Aswani of Moelis & Co. LLC to advise the sale process. Law firm White & Case LLP handled sell-side legal matters.