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Scripps Hopes Tribune Will Serve Up Food Network Stake

The long wait for Scripps Networks Interactive to gain
full control of its flagship Food Network may finally be
coming to an end.

Last week a federal judge approved Tribune Co.’s
bankruptcy reorganization, a three-year ordeal that
could be finalized as soon as the end of this year.

Many assets are at stake, including big-city daily newspapers
the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times; a
handful of broadcast-television stations; and a 31% stake
in SNI’s Food Network and the Cooking Channel.

Most analysts expect Tribune’s new owners — Oaktree
Capital Management Angelo, Gordon & Co. and JP Morgan
— to sell the channels’ stake, and SNI has been keen to buy it.

What remains is for the bankruptcy process to formally
close and for both sides to decide on a price.

That latter point may be a little tricky.

RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank said Tribune’s
new owners are aware of Scripps’ desire to acquire the Food
stake, and could ask for more than the $1.5 billion value he
has slapped on the 31% interest. Wunderlich Securities
media analyst Matt Harrigan, who valued the Tribune
stake at $1.8 billion, believes the group will focus on selling
its 23 broadcast TV stations first.

Scripps Networks, citing a quiet period prior to its
Aug. 1 earnings announcement, declined comment.