Private equity firm Apollo Global Management has agreed to purchase a majority interest in 14 television stations owned by Cox Media Group, as well as a controlling stake in newspaper and radio assets Cox owns in Ohio.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But news that the deal was on the radar was first reported earlier in the week by Reuters, which slapped a $3 billion price tag on the transaction.
Cox Enterprises, Cox Media’s parent, will maintain a minority stake and will create a new company with Apollo to operate the stations, headquartered in Atlanta.
According to Cox, the stations involved in the deal represent its entire TV station portfolio: three ABC affiliates -- WSB-TV in Atlanta; WFTV-TV in Orlando, Fla.; and WSOC-TV in Charlotte, N.C.; an NBC affiliate (WPXI-TV) in Pittsburgh; two independent stations -- WRDQ-TV in Orlando and WAXN-TV in Charlotte; three CBS stations -- WHIO-TV in Dayton, Ohio; KIRO-TV in Seattle and WJAX-TV in Jacksonville, Fla.; four Fox affiliates -- WHBQ-TV in Memphis; WFOX-TV in Jacksonville, Fla.; WFXT-TV in Boston; and KOKI-TV in Tulsa, Okla. Rounding out the list is MyNetworkTV affiliate KMYT-TV in Tulsa.
Apollo Funds also will purchase a majority stake in Cox Media’s other platforms in Ohio: newspapers the Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and the Journal News; and radio stations WZLR, 95.3 FM and 101.1 FM; WHKO, 99.1 FM; and WHIO, 95.7 FM and 1290 AM.
Cox first put the stations on the block in July. In a press release, Cox Enterprises CEO Alex Taylor said he was pleased a buyer was found that shared Cox’s vision and commitment to continue investing in the business.
“These stations have decades of experience breaking barriers and delivering the news and information their communities need daily,” Taylor said. “We wanted to find a company that is committed to investing in broadcast television now and in the future, and we found that in Apollo.”
Barclays PLC, Moelis & Company LLC and BDT & Company, LLC served as the financial advisors and Eversheds Sutherland LLP and Covington & Burling LLP served as the legal advisors to Cox Enterprises in this transaction.
RBC Capital Markets LLC, Guggenheim Partners LLC, and LionTree Advisors, LLC served as the financial advisors and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Greenberg Traurig, LLP served as the legal advisors to the Apollo Funds in this transaction.
“We are extremely excited for our funds to acquire a majority interest in Cox Media Group’s broadcast television stations and are humbled by Cox Enterprises’ decision to entrust us to steward these stations and carry on the Cox legacy. We have an extraordinary amount of respect and admiration for the journalistic integrity, news quality, and commitment to community across Cox Media Group’s broadcast stations,” Apollo senior partner David Sambur said in the release. “We look forward, in collaboration with Cox Enterprises, to supporting the high standards to which each station operates and contributing to the platform’s future growth and prosperity.”