Nexstar Media Group Inc. has agreed to buy Tribune Media Co., in a $4.1-billion deal that would create the nation’s largest owner of local television stations, according to a person with knowledge of the deal who was not authorized to comment on it.
Irving, Texas-based Nexstar — whose portfolio is composed of 174 stations, including affiliates of NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox — outbid private equity giant Apollo Global Management with an all-cash offer of about $46.50 a share. News agency Reuters first reported the deal.
The expected transaction, which could be announced as soon as Monday, comes during a wave of consolidation in the media industry. Companies are feeling pressure to get bigger so they can stay competitive.
Chicago-based Tribune Media owns and operates 42 local stations reaching about 50 million households, including Los Angeles outlet KTLA-TV Channel 5.
A spokesman for Tribune Media declined to comment. Representatives for Nexstar and Apollo did not respond to requests for comment.
Nearly four months ago, a plan for Tribune Media to sell itself to Sinclair Broadcast Group collapsed after the deal became a regulatory and political flashpoint for the companies.
Sinclair had proposed to pay $3.9 billion for Tribune Media. But Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai expressed “serious concerns” about how Sinclair planned to divest some Tribune stations to meet the national cap on TV-station ownership. Pai’s move was a surprise because he largely has been friendly toward consolidation and deregulation.
Separately, the Sinclair deal also had been heavily criticized by liberals who believed the firm would use the clout of its expanded national reach to launch a conservative-leaning news service to compete with Fox News Channel. Sinclair has required local news shows on its stations to run segments favorable to President Trump, and on at least one occasion it had local news anchors nationwide recite a script that echoed some of the president’s talking points.
In August, Tribune Media filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Sinclair, alleging that Sinclair failed to make its best effort to gain regulatory approval of the sale.
Nexstar’s $46.50-a-share offer is slightly more than the $43.50 a share, in a combination of cash and stock, that Sinclair had offered to pay. Tribune Media shares closed at $40.26 on Friday. Nexstar closed at $82.64 a share.