The Weather Channel deal is finally done, and announced on a lazy, bright and clear July 4th weekend Sunday: Landmark Communications has agreed to sell The Weather Channel to a consortium of NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) and two private equity firms, Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group. TWC will be operated as a separate entity, based in Atlanta as before, with management services to be provided by NBCU.
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed officially, but previous reports have pegged the deal in the $3.5 billion range, below the $5 billion Landmark hoped for when it started the sale process. NBCU, Blackstone and Bain would divide $1.8 billion of equity roughly equally in their bid...Blackstone's GSO Capital--a hedge fund firm specializing in leveraged debt--would provide about $600 million in debt.
The transaction is expected to be completed by year-end, and is subject to receipt of customary regulatory approvals. With this deal, NBCU now controls Weather.com and its mobile channel, and of course the ubiquitous cable channel, making it the biggest weather-related multi-platform distribution outlet by far.
By Rafat Ali