Nexstar, Tribune Media announce $6.4 billion merger

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CHICAGO -- Tribune Media, the parent company of Q13 FOX, is being sold.

Nexstar Media Group announced Monday it will buy Tribune's 42 television stations and cable network in a deal that includes $4.1 billion in cash, along with the assumption of debt. The merger, worth $6.4 billion,  will form the nation's largest TV station company.

The acquisition comes four months after Tribune canceled a merger deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group. The FCC ruled the deal needed further review, and Tribune executives decided it wasn't in the company's best interest. Tribune has since filed a lawsuit against Sinclair, seeking $1 billion in damages.

Pending FCC approval, the combined Nexstar-Tribune company will own more than 200 TV stations and cover 39% of US households.

Nexstar will gain a foothold in major markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago for the first time, plus a cable channel (WGN America) and a 31% stake in the Food Network.

“We are delighted to have reached this agreement with Nexstar as it provides Tribune shareholders with substantial value and a well-defined path to closing," Tribune Media CEO Peter Kern said. "Together with Nexstar we can better compete by delivering a nationally integrated, comprehensive and competitive offering across all our markets.   We believe this combination will produce an even stronger broadcast and digital platform that builds on the accomplishments of both companies and benefits our viewers and advertisers."

Nexstar CEO Perry Sook said in a release that the two companies have a "clear path to closing."

"Nexstar has long viewed the acquisition of Tribune Media as a strategically, financially and operationally compelling opportunity that brings immediate value to shareholders of both companies," Sook said.

The company acknowledged it will have to divest some local TV stations to gain FCC approval.

The long wait for a buyer is good news for Tribune shareholders: The new deal is a 45% spike in value of its stock compared to its July 16, 2018 closing price when the Sinclair deal was delayed and ultimately canceled.

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