The Dispatch Broadcast Group, which is owned by the Wolfe family, has agreed to sell two television stations — Columbus CBS affiliate WBNS and Indianapolis NBC affiliate WTHR — as well as sports radio station WBNS Radio (1460 AM and 97.1 FM) to Virginia-based TEGNA Inc. for $535 million in cash.
The deal, structured as a stock purchase, represents a multiple of 7.9 times expected average EBITDA. The acquisition, subject to customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions, is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019.
TEGNA sees the acquisitions as an excellent strategic and financial fit with its portfolio.
WTHR serves the 28th largest television market in the U.S. and airs sports events like the Indianapolis 500. WBNS serves the 34th largest television market. WBNS will join TEGNA’s Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC and Toledo CBS affiliate WTOL. Once the transaction concludes, TEGNA stations will serve two-thirds of all television households in Ohio.
WBNS Radio’s 97.1 is the flagship home of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Columbus Crew, Columbus Blue Jackets and teams across the state. 1460 AM is the flagship station of Ohio State athletics and the home of ESPN Radio in Columbus.
TEGNA will finance the transaction through the use of available cash and borrowing under its existing credit facility. Upon close, leverage is expected to increase to approximately 4.8 times, with the inclusive of the previously announced acquisition of 11 Nexstar-Tribune divestiture stations and the remaining portion of Cooper Media.
Upon closing of this transaction and the Nexstar-Tribune acquisition, TEGNA’s total household reach will be approximately 32 percent on an ultra-high frequency or UHF discounted basis and 39 percent on an undiscounted basis.
TEGNA, which owns 49 television stations and two radio stations in 41 markets, was formerly called Gannet. It completed a spin off from the publishing business in 2015.