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Tribune Media’s shares jump 6% on reports Fox and Blackstone want to buy it

The WGN Radio sign appears on the side of Tribune Tower, Monday, May 1, 2017, in downtown Chicago. T
The WGN Radio sign appears on the side of Tribune Tower in Chicago.
(Kiichiro Sato / Associated Press)

Fox News owner 21st Century Fox Inc. and a New York investment firm are in talks to buy TV station operator Tribune Media Co., according to several reports.

A successful bid would keep Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., another TV station operator that is also reportedly pursuing the company, from snatching up Tribune. Blackstone, a private equity firm, is said to be putting cash toward creating a joint venture, while 21st Century Fox would contribute some TV stations, according to the reports.

21st Century Fox, based in New York, owns and operates the Fox network, the FX cable channel and 28 TV stations. Adding Tribune would give 21st Century Fox control over more local TV stations, most of them in major cities.

Chicago-based Tribune owns or operates 42 stations nationwide, including KTLA in Los Angeles, WPIX in New York and WGN in Chicago. It also has stakes in the Food Network and job-search website CareerBuilder. Several of the stations that Tribune owns are affiliated with Fox and air the network’s primetime shows such as “Empire” and “The Simpsons.”

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“The deal does have clear strategic value for Fox,” Jefferies analyst John Janedis said Monday in a note to clients.

Tribune, 21st Century Fox and Blackstone declined to comment Monday. The possible deal was first reported by the Financial Times.

Reports of a potential bid from Sinclair, based in Hunt Valley, Md., emerged a month after proposals to dial back regulations that kept a lid on such deals were floated by Ajit Pai, appointed by Trump to head the Federal Communications Commission.

Shares of Tribune Media rose 6% on Monday to close at $38.75.

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UPDATES:

3:25 p.m.: This article was updated with Tribune Media stock movement.

9 a.m.: This article was updated with analyst comment, Tribune Media stock movement and additional details.

This article was originally published at 5:35 a.m.

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