The Tribune stations may have jumped out of the heat and into the fire.
Many Tribune employees felt that dodged a huge bullet when the FCC shutdown Sinclair’s bid to buy the group.
But now, it might be looking even worse for the Tribune stations.
The New York Post reports that Tribune’s 42 stations have a new suitor — and this one likes President Trump as well.
Tom Hicks Jr., the Texas-based chair of America First, a super PAC that’s aligned with Trump, is expected to make a play for Tribune.
Hicks Equity Partners is teaming up for its bid with Cerberus Capital, the buyout firm headed by billionaire Stephen Feinberg, who also chairs an intelligence advisory panel to the president, sources said.
The Hicks-Cerberus bid is taking shape two months after the Federal Communications Commission blocked Tribune’s $3.9 billion deal to be acquired by Sinclair Broadcasting — the conservative giant that courted controversy this spring by making its local news anchors read scripted criticism of anti-Trump news coverage.
Tribune has signed confidentiality agreements with the latest crop of suitors and is taking first-round nonbinding offers by the end of the month, sources said.
Nexstar Media Group, which operates 171 TV stations nationwide, is still among those still pursuing Tribune, sources said. Private equity firms Apollo Global Management and the Blackstone Group are likewise weighing offers, a source said.
Bids may reach the “mid-$40s” range, implying a potential market value north of $3.8 billion, according to one source close to the talks.
Because Hicks and Cerberus don’t currently own any TV stations, they should be able to sail though regulatory agencies, giving them a possible edge in the auction, sources said.
Nexstar also is interested in buying the 14 TV stations Cox Enterprises is planning on selling in an auction that is not yet underway, sources said. It is unlikely Nexstar can buy both sets of stations, the sources added.