Weather Clears: NBCU, Bain, Blackstone Sign Purchase Agreement

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As expected, NBC Universal, Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group have signed a definitive agreement to acquire The Weather Channel properties from Landmark Communications. Continuing to be based in Atlanta, the network will be operated as a separate entity, with NBC Universal providing management services.

The transaction--terms of which were not disclosed, but is estimated to be some $3.5 billion--encompasses The Weather Channel Networks; the Weather Channel Interactive, which includes weather.com, the nation’s leading weather Web site and a mobile business; and Weather Services International, a global leader in weather forecasting, with more than 5,500 clients worldwide.

The deal is expected to be completed by year-end, and is subject to customary regulatory approvals.

NBCU, Bain and Blackstone had entered into exclusive negotiations to purchase the properties on June 13, when Time Warner Inc. removed itself from the auction, which Landmark had originally hoped would yield some $5 billion. Market watchers peg the value of the deal at some $3.5 billion.

“This will further position NBC Universal as the leading provider of news, information and weather, both online and on television,” said NBCU president and CEO Jeff Zucker in a statement. “Joining with The Weather Channel properties plays to our strengths in developing and programming cable networks, and in producing and distributing high-quality content across multiple platforms.”

Noted Landmark president and COO Decker Anstrom: “The Weather Channel team has built an iconic cable network and brand, a top 15 Web site, the No. 1 mobile content provider, the world’s leading B2B weather business and the No. 1 weather radar provider, generating consistently outstanding financial results and wide recognition as a model employer and leader in diversity. We deeply appreciate the terrific support that the cable industry has provided, both at our creation and throughout our development, and we look forward to a smooth transition with NBC Universal, which has a great track record in building and growing high-quality news and information businesses, and its partners.”

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