Media mogul Byron Allen raises $10 billion for Tegna bid, debt refinancing -sources

By Helen Coster and Krystal Hu

(Reuters) – Media entrepreneur Byron Allen has raised $10 billion in preferred equity and debt for his bid for U.S. regional TV station operator Tegna Inc, hoping to prevail over a rival offer from investment firms Apollo Global Management Inc and Standard General LP, people familiar with the matter said.

The financing is backed by a consortium of 14 banks and 10 investors, including Ares Management Corp, Fortress Investment Group, Oaktree Capital Management and Michael Milken’s family office, one of the sources said.

Ares is leading a $2.2 billion preferred equity investment in support of Allen’s financing package, another of the sources added.

Tegna could choose a winning bidder as early as this month, the sources said.

Spokespeople for Tegna, Apollo, Oaktree and Michael Milken declined to comment.

Allen, who acquired the Weather Channel TV network for $300 million in 2018, made a $23 per share offer for Tegna in September, while Apollo and Standard General offered $22 per share, according to people familiar with the matter.

Tegna wants both bidders to raise their offers, one of the sources said. It also expects assurances from both bidders that they will entertain all regulatory demands necessary to complete the acquisition, and views the Apollo/Standard General bid as most likely to raise antitrust concerns, the source added.

Apollo owns 33 TV stations in 20 markets through its portfolio company Cox Media Group, while Standard General owns four TV stations, according to their websites.

Tegna reported third-quarter earnings on Thursday and said on a call with analysts it was still evaluating acquisition proposals versus its stand-alone prospects.

The company recorded $756 million in revenue in the quarter, up 2% year-over-year. It has 64 television stations in 51 U.S. markets, and a market value of $7.75 billion including debt.

(Reporting by Helen Coster in New York and Krystal Hu in San Francisco; Editing by Chris Reese)

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