UPDATED: LIN Media has agreed to acquire the 13 New Vision Television stations for $330.4 million and the assumption of $12 million in debt. LIN also agreed to provide services to five separately owned network affiliates currently served by New Vision.
The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close late in 2012.
Station broker Richard Foreman estimated the deal terms to be around an 8-8 1/2 X multiple.
"We have been evaluating the M&A landscape for quite some time and selectively pursued New Vision Television as it adds geographical diversity, particularly in the south and western U.S.," said Vincent Sadusky, LIN's president and CEO. "New Vision Television has a reputation for operating high quality, well run media properties. This is a terrific opportunity to strengthen our mid size market station portfolio in an accretive manner and will provide new markets to expand our digital business."
New Vision CEO Jason Elkin called the deal "bittersweet."
"I have never worked with a more dedicated and committed group of local broadcasters than the management and staff of New Vision, led by my COO John Heinen, CFO Eric Simontis and executive VP Steve Spendlove," he said. "The decision to sell to LIN Media was not an easy one, but we negotiated a fair price and so decided that now is the right time for me and others at New Vision to begin to look at new opportunities."
The stations include KOIN Portland and KHON Honolulu, along with outlets in Birmingham, Wichita, Savannah, Youngstown, Topeka and Mason City, Iowa.
LIN's U.S. household reach will go from 7.3% to 10.6% if and when the deal goes through.
Late 2011 saw a flurry of substantial station M&A, including Scripps' $212 million grab of McGraw-Hill, Sinclair's $385 acquisition of Freedom Broadcasting, and Sinclair again with a $200 million pickup of the Four Points Media stations.
LIN-New Vision represents the largest station deal of 2012. Foreman sees it as an indication of the strength of broadcasting. "It's a nice deal to see. It's good to see LIN come in and buy this kind of bulk number," he said. "It's a wonderful endorsement for what goes on in the transaction business of television."