Nexstar Closes Tribune Deal

Less than a year after first announcing the deal, Nexstar Media Group said it has completed its $7.2 billion purchase of Tribune Media, creating the largest TV station group in the country, with 197 owned and operated properties in 115 markets covering 39% of U.S. television homes.

Nexstar and Tribune first announced the merger in December 2018. Also as part of the transaction, Nexstar gets Tribune’s 31% stake in the Food Network and its full ownership of WGN America.

The closing comes days after the merger received approval from the Federal Communications Commission. 

“The completion of our accretive acquisition of Tribune Media increases Nexstar’s geographic diversity and audience reach with national coverage and an expanded presence in top 50 DMAs, while offering complementary media assets and investments, scale driven synergies and further cash flow diversification,” Nexstar CEO Perry Sook said in a press release. “Nexstar Media Group is now the nation’s leading creator and distributor of local news, entertainment, sports, lifestyle and network programming through its broadcast and digital media platforms.”

Nexstar also announced that it will take three top Tribune executives into the fold, effective immediately: Sean Compton has been named EVP of WGN America, WGN Radio and director of content acquisition; Dana Zimmer was tapped as EVP and chief distribution and strategy officer and Gary Weitman has been named EVP and chief communications officer.

“Today, the Nexstar team is comprised of more than 13,000 talented team members across America united by a common vision focused on localism, innovation and growth as well as a passion for professional excellence,” Sook said in the press release. “Sean, Dana and Gary are recognized leaders in their respective fields and we welcome them to the Nexstar senior management team.

BofA Merrill Lynch acted as financial adviser and Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Wiley Rein LLP acted as legal counsel to Nexstar in connection with the transaction. Moelis & Company and Guggenheim Securities acted as financial advisors to Tribune Media and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Covington & Burling LLP acted as its legal counsel. 

As part of the deal, Nexstar spun 11 stations off to Tegna, which also announced Thursday it had closed on that purchase.

The $740 million deal ups Tegna's portfolio to 62 TV stations in 51 markets.