The long wait for Scripps Networks Interactive to gain
full control of its flagship Food Network may finally be
coming to an end.
Last week a federal judge approved Tribune Co.’s
bankruptcy reorganization, a three-year ordeal that
could be finalized as soon as the end of this year.
Many assets are at stake, including big-city daily newspapers
the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times; a
handful of broadcast-television stations; and a 31% stake
in SNI’s Food Network and the Cooking Channel.
Most analysts expect Tribune’s new owners — Oaktree
Capital Management Angelo, Gordon & Co. and JP Morgan
— to sell the channels’ stake, and SNI has been keen to buy it.
What remains is for the bankruptcy process to formally
close and for both sides to decide on a price.
That latter point may be a little tricky.
RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank said Tribune’s
new owners are aware of Scripps’ desire to acquire the Food
stake, and could ask for more than the $1.5 billion value he
has slapped on the 31% interest. Wunderlich Securities
media analyst Matt Harrigan, who valued the Tribune
stake at $1.8 billion, believes the group will focus on selling
its 23 broadcast TV stations first.
Scripps Networks, citing a quiet period prior to its
Aug. 1 earnings announcement, declined comment.