Nexstar, Fox Buy/Sell Five Stations
Nexstar Media Group and Fox Corp. announced Tuesday afternoon station sales between the two companies.
Nexstar will purchase from Fox Corp., the Charlotte, N.C. (DMA 21), Fox affiliate WJZY and MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYT for approximately $45 million in cash.
Fox is buying from Nexstar the Seattle (DMA 13) Fox affiliate KCPQ and MyNetworkTV affiliate KZJO and the Milwaukee (DMA 35) Fox affiliate WITI for approximately $350 million in cash, subject to customary adjustments. Those stations align with the Fox’s sports rights and the transaction will expand Fox Television Stations’ market presence to 14 of the top 15 DMAs.
Fox Executive Chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch said: “This acquisition expands the reach of one of Fox’s core assets, our television stations portfolio, and further strengthens what is already a highly profitable and cash generative business. The Seattle and Milwaukee markets both overlap with key sports markets, creating significant opportunities for growth and collaboration.”
Jack Abernethy, CEO of Fox Television Stations, added: “Acquiring stations in these high-performing NFC markets enhances our already strong nationwide footprint and further demonstrates Fox Television Stations’ commitment to serving our viewers, advertisers and local communities.”
Nexstar said its addition of WJZY-WMYT in Charlotte is “geographically complementary to Nexstar’s existing operations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia while presenting financial and operating synergies with the company’s station portfolio and digital operations. Nexstar intends to use the net cash proceeds from the transactions to reduce borrowings under its credit facilities.”
Commenting on the agreements, Nexstar Media Group Chairman, President and CEO Perry Sook said: “Throughout Nexstar Media Group’s 23-year history, we have actively managed our station portfolio with the goal of serving the local communities where we operate, diversifying our operations, managing risk and improving financial results.
“The planned transactions with Fox address all of these strategic objectives and the net financial result is embedded in our pro-forma average annual free cash flow guidance for the 2019-2020 cycle of approximately $1.02 billion. These transactions also highlight our near-term focus on reducing leverage as our net leverage ratio will decline by approximately 0.1 times from the 4.6 times level, at June 30, 2019, announced when we closed the Tribune transaction in September.
“The Charlotte metropolitan area is the fastest growing in the country with a strong and stable economy, affordable housing and a solid job market. We look forward to adding Fox affiliate WJZY and MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYT to our platform as they represent excellent complements to our already strong mid-Atlantic presence and will benefit from our local news and other programming resources.
“In addition, this transaction frees up approximately 0.7% household reach (reflecting the FCC’s UHF discount) allowing us to pursue other opportunistic transactions that strengthen our local market platform and service to viewers and businesses. From a financial perspective this transaction represents another unique and innovative means for Nexstar to enhance shareholder value.”
The transaction is subject to FCC approval and other customary approvals, and both companies said it is expected to close in the first half of calendar year 2020.