KRTV, other Montana stations sold

Multiple Montana television stations, including KRTV, are being acquired by The E.W. Scripps Company.

In a release, Scripps said it was acquiring 15 television stations in 10 markets from Cordillera Communications.

Five Montana TV stations for sale, including KRTV in Great Falls

The acquisition grows the Scripps local television station footprint to 51 stations in 36 markets with a reach of nearly 21 percent of U.S. TV households, according to the Scripps release.

Financial highlights include:

  • the purchase price is $521 million;
  • the portfolio is immediately accretive to margins for the local media segment and the company;
  • based on Cordillera’s blended 2017 actual and 2018 estimated revenues of $158 million and EBITDA of $63 million, adjusted for synergies, the purchase price multiple is 7.2 times net of tax benefits.

“Through this transaction, Scripps will operate the No. 1-rated TV stations in a third of its markets, enhancing the durability of our portfolio,” Brian Lawlor, president of local media, said in a release. “The acquisition also allows us to go deeper in new markets with the addition of three new duopolies, including two with Big Four combinations.”

The stations Scripps is acquiring are:

  • WLEX, the NBC affiliate in Lexington, Kentucky
  • KOAA, the NBC affiliate in Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • KATC, the ABC affiliate in Lafayette, Louisiana
  • KSBY, the NBC affiliate in Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo, California
  • KRIS, the NBC affiliate, and KAJA, a Telemundo affiliate, in Corpus Christi, Texas
  • KPAX and KAJJ, a CBS affiliate in Missoula, Montana
  • KTVQ, a CBS affiliate in Billings, Montana
  • KXLF/KBZK, the CBS affiliate in Butte-Bozeman, Montana
  • KRTV, the CBS affiliate, and KTGF, the NBC affiliate, in Great Falls, Montana
  • KTVH, the NBC affiliate, and KXLH, the CBS affiliate, in Helena, Montana

“In addition to the immediate benefits to our portfolio’s operating performance, this deal leaves Scripps with the capability to continue to pursue incremental and transformative deals for television stations,” said Adam Symson, Scripps president and CEO. “We will continue to pursue all appropriate avenues to enhance the scale and operating performance of our local media portfolio.”

The 10 Cordillera markets have about 700 employees.

Cordillera Communications is owned by Evening Post Industries. Scripps is not buying Cordillera’s remaining station in Tucson, Arizona, because Scripps already operates a duopoly in that market. There are no other overlapping markets.

The Tuscon station is being acquired by Quincy.

The transaction will be financed through an incremental term loan underwritten by Wells Fargo. Scripps’ existing Term Loan B and senior unsecured notes will remain in place. The company anticipates its total leverage ratio, net of cash, would be approximately 4.8x at closing, according to Scripps.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

Methuselah Advisors acted as financial advisor and Cooley LLP acted as legal advisor to Cordillera Communications. BakerHostetler acted as legal advisor for Scripps.