Scripps Books Travel Channel in $975 Million Deal
It’s official: Scripps Networks Interactive has won the Travel Channel auction. In a deal that values the channel at $975 million, Scripps will acquire a majority interest in the property while current owner Cox retains a 35 percent stake. News Corp. (NWS), among others, had been bidding for the channel.
The deal will be structured as a joint venture, and Scripps (SNI) will kick $181 million into the new partnership; it will then issue another $878 million in debt.
Scripps itself frequently pops up as an acquisition candidate, and that chatter has only gotten louder as a new wave of consolidation appears to be in motion, prompted by Comcast’s (CMCSA) pursuit of GE’s (GE) NBC Universal.
Scripps, which had planned on announcing quarterly results this morning, is pushing back its earnings call till tomorrow morning.
Here’s the full press release:
CINCINNATI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Scripps Networks Interactive Inc, owner and operator of the Food Network and HGTV lifestyle television networks, will enter into a joint venture with Cox Communications Inc. by which it will acquire a controlling interest in the Travel Channel.
The two companies today signed a definitive agreement that, upon completion, will result in Scripps Networks Interactive owning 65 percent of the Travel Channel and Cox Communications retaining a 35 percent minority stake in the network.
The Travel Channel transaction is expected to be completed by or before January 2010.
“Combining the Travel Channel with Food Network and HGTV will make our fast-growing, young company the undisputed global leader in lifestyle programming,” said Kenneth W. Lowe, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Scripps Networks Interactive. “This collection of popular lifestyle networks will be in great demand worldwide and promises to create substantial long-term value for all of our stakeholders.”
Launched in 1987, Travel Channel has grown to become one of America’s best known cable television networks and today reaches about 95 million U.S. television households. The television network–the cornerstone of Travel Channel Media–supports a growing range of cross-platform initiatives including Internet, mobile and social media applications.
“Adding the Travel Channel, and its related enterprises, provides us with a unique opportunity to meaningfully expand our portfolio into a lifestyle category that’s highly desirable to media consumers, advertisers and programming distributors,” Lowe said. “Our vision for Travel follows the same script that’s made Food Network and HGTV two ofthe most powerful brands in all of television. By lending our unparalleled expertise in developing successful lifestyle media businesses, we have every confidence that we can build on Travel’s strong brand identity and leverage the successes achieved to date by the top-notch team at Travel Channel and our new partners at Cox Communications.”
As proposed, the transaction is structured as a leveraged joint venture between Scripps Networks Interactive and Cox Communications.
Cox will contribute the Travel Channel, valued at $975 million, and Scripps Networks Interactive will contribute $181 million in cash to a newly created partnership. The partnership, in turn, will take on $878 million in third-party debt that will be guaranteed by Scripps and indemnified by Cox, with the proceeds to be distributed to Cox.
The transaction will result in the partnership having about $696 million in net debt.
“This solid partnership that we’re establishing today allows us to maintain an interest in Travel Channel while at the same time giving the network an opportunity to leverage the resources and expertise of a successful programmer like Scripps Networks Interactive,” said Cox Communications President Patrick Esser. “Scripps has an outstanding reputation as a company, an employer and a programmer. Over the past 15 years, Scripps Networks Interactive has built a portfolio of leading lifestyle programming brands, and we think this complementary expertise will be a boon to Travel Channel’s future growth.”
Scripps Networks Interactive will control the joint venture and the network will be run as part of the company’s growing portfolio of popular lifestyle media brands.
“The incredibly complementary nature of our lifestyle media businesses presents an abundance of opportunity to provide services for Travel Channel that will result in increased advertising and affiliate revenues and substantial cost synergies,” Lowe said. “We have extensive experience working with partners to build value over the long term. Among cable companies, Cox has an outstanding reputation for its vision and investment for the long-term success of its businesses. We look forward to partnering with them in this venture.”
Scripps Networks Interactive was advised on the transaction by Barclays Capital Inc. and Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom LLP.