Media firm Gannett Company Inc. (NYSE: GCI) this morning signed a definitive merger agreement with TV station owner Belo Corp. (NYSE: BLC) to acquire all the outstanding shares of Belo for $13.75 per share in cash. Including the assumption of Belo’s debt, the deal is worth about $2.2 billion.
Gannett estimates that the acquisition will contribute $0.50 a share to its non-GAAP earnings per share within the first 12 months of operation. Belo shareholders will receive a premium of about 28% to last night’s closing price of $10.73.
Gannett notes that once the acquisition is complete, it will own TV stations in 21 of the top 25 U.S. markets and that it will become the number one affiliate group for CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS), the number four affiliate group for ABC TV, which is owned by The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), and will remain the number one affiliate group for NBC TV, which is owned by General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE).
The acquisition is expected to close by the end of this year, following the usual regulatory and shareholder approvals. Belo’s directors and executives own about 42% of the company’s stock and already have agreed to vote their shares in support of the deal. Shares of Gannett are up more than 23% at $24.54 in premarket trading this morning, a new 52-week high if it holds. The stock’s current 52-week range is $12.50 to $22.20. Belo’s shares are up about 27% at $13.63, in a current 52-week range of $5.75 to $11.79.