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Nexstar, others to buy Newport TV assets for $1 billion
(Reuters) - Nexstar Broadcasting Group (NXST.O), Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc (SBGI.O) and Cox Media Group COXET.UL entered into separate deals to buy 22 television stations from privately held Newport Television for about $1 billion.
A robust advertising market, the growing importance of retransmission fees and improved access for funding have set the stage for TV station mergers.
Reuters reported in March that Newport Television had retained Moelis & Co to explore strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the company.
Providence Equity acquired Newport Television from Clear Channel Communications (CCU.N) for $1.01 billion in 2008.
Newport said Nexstar bought 12 stations, Sinclair Broadcast six and Cox Media four.
Nexstar, which will also buy Newport's Inergize Digital Media operations, paid $285.5 million in cash for that business and 12 stations in Utah, Arkansas, Tennessee and New York.
Nexstar said it had secured commitments for a loan of $645 million, part of which will be used to finance the Newport deals and the rest to refinance debt and redeem senior notes.
Sinclair Broadcast, which bought the six stations for $412.5 million, is also acquiring rights to operate two stations in Pennsylvania and Kansas after local marketing agreements.
Sinclair said it expects the stations to add between $55 million and $60 million to pro forma TV operating cash flow for 2012 and 2013.
Newport said it was continuing to pursue the sale of its five remaining stations in California, Oregon and New York.
Shares of Baltimore-based Sinclair were marginally up at $9.93 in afternoon trade on the Nasdaq on Thursday, while Nexstar shares were up 7 percent at $6.55.
(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale and Supantha Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Rodney Joyce, Joyjeet Das, Ted Kerr and Anil D'Silva)
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