Shares of Nexstar Media Group soared Wednesday after Reuters reported that private equity firm Apollo Global Management had approached the second largest broadcast station owner in the country about a possible buyout.
Nexstar stock rose as high as $89.75 per share in early trading Wednesday (up 15%, or $11.65 each) but settled down later in the day to $80.55 (up $2.45 each or 3.1%) after Reuters said the legendary buyout firm was eyeing a Nexstar deal.
Reuters, citing people familiar with the matter, said Apollo has paired up with P2 Capital Partners, an investment first that already owns a small stake in Nexstar, to work out a deal for the broadcaster. Neither has formally started talks with Nexstar management about a deal, the news service said.
Nexstar and Apollo officials did not respond immediately to comment.
Nexstar is just coming off the $2.3 billion purchase of Media General last year, and is the second largest owner of broadcast stations in the country, behind Sinclair Broadcast Group. Nexstar’s 169 stations are affiliated with all four major broadcast networks – CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox – and are located in some of the largest markets in the country.
But Nexstar could be looking to acquire more scale, especially as Sinclair moves to widen the gap between the No.1 and No. 2 station groups with its pending purchase of Tribune Media. If that deal passes regulatory muster, it would have more than 200 stations covering 70% of the country.