In the third such transaction in less than a week, Gannett is the latest company to announce it is splitting its publishing and broadcasting businesses into two separate companies. Speculation of the breakup has been brewing since earlier this year, when Bloomberg reported Gannett was one of the last media holdouts to shed its slower-growing publishing business.
Gannett’s Broadcasting and Digital company, which has yet to be named, will remain headquartered in McLean, Virginia, and will trade on the NYSE. Gracia Martore will continue as CEO.
Earlier this year, Gannett announced it was acquiring the 6-station London Broadcasting portfolio for $215 million. That came just months after it completed the acquisition of the 20-station Belo TV station group for $2.2 billion. Belo itself had split its TV and newspaper businesses in 2007.
“These acquisitions, combined with our successful initiatives over the past 2-1/2 years to strengthen our Publishing business, make this the right time for a separation into two market-leading companies,” Martore said. The deal is expected to be complete by mid-2015.
The Broadcasting business includes 46 television stations the company owns or services and is the largest independent station group of major network affiliates in the top 25 markets. Gannett is also acquiring full ownership of Cars.com adding it to its Digital portfolio, which also includes CareerBuilder.
Gannett will remain the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, with its flagship brand USA Today as well as 81 local U.S. daily publications.
The Gannett announcement comes on the same day that Tribune Publishing begins trading as a company separate from Tribune Media Company, which consists mostly of the storied Chicago company’s broadcasting entities. And just last week, E.W. Scripps and Journal Communications announced they would merge and separate their publishing and broadcasting assets.