Gray Television said it reached an agreement to buy Quincy Media for $925 million in cash, continuing the consolidation of the local broadcast business.
The combine companies would own TV stations in 102 markets and reach 25.4% of U.S. TV households. It would own the No. 1 station in 77 markets.
“We are honored and humbled to be selected by Quincy’s shareholders to acquire their terrific company,” said Gray CEO Hilton H. Howell, Jr. “We are very excited to welcome their dedicated journalists, account executives, and technologists to the Gray family. With the addition of these professionals and their stations, Gray will become a stronger company with an even larger platform of high quality television stations to better serve the public interest first.”
Deal making in the station business has been slowed a bit by the pandemic. Last year’s big deals included the E.W. Scripps Co. buying Ion Media for $2.65 billion and Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group buying KITV in Hawaii for $30 million. Allen has stated that he will spend $10 billion to acquire more Big 4 network affiliates over the next two years.
In the prior years, big deals included Nexstar Media wrestling Tribune Broadcasting away from Sinclair Broadcast Group and Apollo Global Management acquired Cox Media Group.
Gray had reportedly tried to buy Tegna for $8.5 billion last year, but the bid was dropped.
After the transaction, Gray will own the Quincy stations in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Peoria, Ill.; Rockford, Ill.; Duluth, Minn,; Rochester, Minn.; Sioux City, Iowa; Binghamton, N.Y.; Bluefield-Beckley, West Va.; and Quincy, Ill.
Gray will be selling the Quincy stations in Tucson, Ariz.; Madison, Wis.; Paducah, Ky.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; LaCrosse-Eau Claire, Wis.; and Wausau-Stevens Point, Wis.
Gray will also acquire Quincy’s Heroes & Icons affiliate WSJV in South Bend, Indiana, as well as WGEM(AM)/-FM in Quincy, Illinois. Gray will not acquire Quincy’s newspaper operations, which will be divested prior to the Gray-Quincy closing.
“Many of our shareholders, board members and employees are descendants of two families who have been in the company for 95 years and in the media business for over 100 years. The focus has always been on serving our communities with the best in news, public service and community involvement. It is a legacy of which we are very proud,” Quincy Media CEO Ralph M. Oakley said. “While this is the end of a long and successful chapter, it also represents a wonderful new chapter for the communities we serve and our employees with the acquisition of the stations by Gray. They are great operators and people and our philosophies very much mirror one another.”
Gray expects that the Quincy transaction will be immediately accretive. The company said it expects to realize year-one annualized synergies of approximately $23 million.
Gray intends to finance the transaction, net of divestiture proceeds, with cash on hand and/or new debt.
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