As many as eight of the TVNewsCheck Top 30 station groups already have private equity backing, as do several smaller station groups, and there are hints that private equity investors could be preparing for another push into the sector. “Private equity used to buy because of growth,” says an industry source involved with M&A activity. “Now they’re buying because groups are throwing off cash.”
George Lilly’s SJL Holdings wants to add McGraw-Hill’s Indianapolis ABC affiliate to its growing portfolio of stations, but Lilly is not saying how much he’s offering.
McGraw-Hill has begun shopping its four-station group and is said to be drawing interest from the likes of Nexstar, Meredith and Belo. Based on its financials for 2010 and 2011, the group is worth between $150 million and $200 million, although bidding and the expection of big revenue gains from political advertising in 2012 could push the number higher.
The FCC last Friday approved SJL Holdings’ purchase of two small-market ABC O&Os, WJRT Flint, Mich., and WTVG Toledo, Ohio. Upon closing, ABC will get $16.8 million for WTVG and $13.2 million for WJRT. The deal had been announced last November.
George Lilly, a broadcast veteran who’s just agreed to buy two stations from ABC, says the time is right to be buying again. He thinks we’ve seen the end of the recession and is bullish on what the future holds for expanding local TV’s revenue streams, ranging from retransmission consent money, to online growth as well as mobile. “We just see upside potential.”
Broadcast veteran George Lilly wants to grow his SJL Broadcasting into a group of six to eight stations following his just-announced deal to buy two ABC O&Os from Disney.