UPDATE 1-Sinclair Broadcast to buy Fisher Communications for $373 mln
* Offers Fisher $41/share, a premium of 5 pct to Wednesday close
* Sinclair to finance deal through cash on hand and debt
* Sinclair's shares rise 3 percent; Trading in Fisher shares halted
April 11 (Reuters) - TV station operator Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc said it will buy Fisher Communications Inc for about $373 million to expand its operations in western United States.
The offer values Fisher at $41 per share, a premium of 5 percent to the stock's Wednesday closing price.
It is 44 percent above the stock's closing on Jan. 9, a day before Fisher, under pressure from billionaire investor Mario Gabelli, said it was exploring strategic alternatives, including a sale.
Gabelli, the largest shareholder in the company with a 26.75 percent stake, had then told Reuters that he preferred a leveraged restructuring to an outright sale.
Seattle-based Fisher owns 20 television stations in eight markets and three radio stations. It runs CBS and ABC affiliates such as KPIC TV, KCBY TV and KATU TV.
Sinclair said it expects to finance the acquisition through cash on hand and debt. The company may also raise funds from capital markets.
The company said it would reach about 34 percent of U.S. television households following the Fisher acquisition.
Sinclair's shares rose 3 percent to $22.48 in early trading on the Nasdaq. Trading in Fisher shares were halted.