Standard General’s Soo Kim Still Confident of Tegna Deal Approval

Soo Kim Standard General
Soo Kim (Image credit: Standard General)

Standard General managing partner and chief investment officer Soo Kim said he remains confident the company’s $8.6 billion billion acquisition of Tegna will be approved and completed.

Speaking on a conference call with reporters following the closing of the Federal Communications Commission’s third comment period on the deal, Kim noted that other transactions have been approved in less than six months, while this regulatory review is now in its 11th month.

“This deal has been subjected to a deeper level of scrutiny than other recently approved major TV transactions, but we’re OK with that because we are confident of our strong track record, the public interest benefits of the transaction and that we have addressed every question that’s been raised during the process.”

The delay has cost Standard General money. It had to start paying Tegna a “ticking fee” when approval took longer than nine months. The fee will increase again if the deal takes longer than 12 months to pass muster. Soo said the merger agreement has an option to keep trying to close the deal if approval takes more than a year.

“We’re optimistic and obviously would prefer economically to get this done during the current ticking fee that’s in place today,” Kim said.

The deal has faced objections from NewsGuild members concerned about newsroom job losses, cable operators worried about fee hikes and competitors.  Standard General has made a series of pledges to quell their objections, but Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) nonetheless asked the FCC to block the deal.

Also: Standard General, Comcast Strike Tegna Retrans Agreement

Soo said that Standard General has been in contact with the parties objecting to the deal.

“We’ve reached out to everyone,” Kim said, and told them “we hear your concerns. We’re happy to sit with you and tell you the actual facts, in cash someone might have read you our brief in a way that we think is not exactly ground in reality.”

He noted that while Standard Media has reached out to the NewsGuild, they have “not wanted to sit down with us.”

Soo said that at this point he’s optimistic that Standard General has met all the conditions to gain approval for the deal.

“This transaction is a win for employees, a win for local newsgathering, a win for the local broadcast ecosystem and, above all, a win for the communities our stations will serve,” he said. ■

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.