Tegna Mum on Nexstar Merger, But Keen on Growth

While Tegna Friday had no comment about a possible merger with Nexstar, a company rep didn’t quash the idea either, saying the group will be pursuing “an aggressive growth strategy” once the spinoff of its website, Cars.com, is complete.

“As a matter of corporate policy, we do not comment on market rumors or speculation,” a Tegna rep told B&C. “However, it is important to reiterate that once the spinoff of Cars.com is complete on May 31, Tegna will be a pure play broadcaster pursuing an aggressive growth strategy based on its leading market position and strong balance sheet. We expect to be a strategic and disciplined consolidator at this pivotal time of positive regulatory change.”

Tegna’s statement comes on the heels of a report this week in Dealreporter, adding fuel to widespread speculation that Nexstar is eyeing a Tegna acquisition. The report cited a Nexstar exec speaking to investors. Nexstar would not comment on the story.

If such a deal were to happen, Nexstar and Tegna couldn't move ahead with it until the latter spins off Cars.com on May 31. Otherwise, the spinoff could lose its tax-free status.

But Nexstar chief executive Perry Sook has made no secret of his desire to further grow his company, which closed its $4.6 billion acquisition of Media General in January.

Nexstar reportedly was considering a bid for the Tribune station group before Sinclair struck a deal to buy the group earlier this month—the first of what could be a spate of consolidations following the FCC’s recent easing of ownership caps.