Cox Enterprises, the Atlanta-based diversified media company, has sold off three of its newspapers: Waco Tribune-Herald to Robinson Media Company and The Daily Sentinel and The Nickel (Grand Junction, Colo.) to Grand Junction Media, which is owned by Seaton Publishing Co.
This comes as Cox Communications, a subsidiary of parent Cox, is looking to sell off a majority in Travel Channel. The company has hired Goldman Sachs to manage the sale process, and stories say that the sale could reach as much as $600 million to $1 billion. Scripps Networks Interactive (NYSE: SNI) is a front runner in the process (and a great fit considering its other lifestyle cable channels), says FT, with Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) being another interested party.
Other such as Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA), NBCU, Viacom (NYSE: VIA) and CBS (NYSE: CBS) could also be interested. Cox plans to retain a stake of 33-35 percent for tax reasons, the story says. The channel has shows such as the popular “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” though its online/mobile presence has been average, at best (Compete.com shows a million uniques a month, though traffic has been on the rise since earlier this year).
Launched in 1987, Cox acquired the channel in 2007, receiving $1.275 billion in cash along with the channel in exchange for its 25 percent stake in Discovery (NSDQ: DISAB) Communications (NSDQ: DISCA), and Reuters churns some numbers and comes to the conclusion that a price tag of anything above $300 million would translate into more than what Cox paid for the channel. Comparisons to the sale of Weather Channel to NBCU, while logical, may be moot as the downturn has changed the appetite for higher valuations, the channel’s revenue resilience notwithstanding.
On the newspaper front, The Tribune-Herald, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1994 for its investigative reporting, dates back to the 19th century. Robinson Media Company is led by local business leader Clifton Robinson and recently sold National Lloyds Insurance Company, which he founded in 1964. More here. Meanwhile, more on the sale of the other two newspapers here.
As it announced last year, Cox is looking to sll its newspapers in Colorado, North Carolina and Texas. It recently sold The Lufkin Daily News and The Daily Sentinel (Nacogdoches, Texas) to Houston-based Southern Newspapers. Citigroup and Dirks, Van Essen & Murray are the bankers helping sell the papers left in its portfolio.
By Rafat Ali