Tegna is being acquired by its largest active shareholder, Standard General, and a second private equity firm, Apollo Global Management, for an equity value of approximately $5.4 billion and an enterprise value of approximately $8.6 billion.
Standard General and Apollo will pay $24.00 a share for Tegna, which owns 64 station in 51 local markets. As part of the deal, Tegna’s stations in Austin (KVUE), Dallas (WFAA and KMPX) and Houston (KHOU and KTBU) are expected to be acquired by Cox Media Group from Standard General.
The new station group announced Deb McDermott will take over for Dave Lougee as chief executive officer and Soo Kim, founding partner of Standard General, will serve as chairman of a new board. McDermott currently serves as CEO of Standard Media and has more than 20 years of experience leading broadcast groups, including previously serving as COO of Media General and as CEO and president of Young Broadcasting.
“I am honored to lead Tegna’s team to create new opportunities and build on its heritage and successes achieved under Dave’s leadership,” said McDermott. “Tegna’s stations have earned excellent reputations as leading local content providers—and Tegna’s digital and content assets are a key part of its future in an evolving media landscape. These achievements are a credit to the hard work of Tegna’s dedicated employees, who are the company’s most valuable asset. I’m very excited about what the future holds for Tegna.”
“As long-term investors in the television broadcasting industry, we have a deep admiration for Tegna and the stations it operates and, in particular, for Tegna’s talented employees and their commitment to serving their communities,” said Kim. “We are excited to partner again with Deb McDermott, who previously spearheaded the broadcast group at Media General, where Standard General was a principal shareholder. We believe Tegna has a strong foundation and exciting prospects for continued growth as a result of the stewardship of the Board and the current management team. We look forward to building on the company’s strong foundation and leveraging Deb’s deep industry experience to drive further growth.”
“This transaction is the next step in Tegna’s evolution and recognizes the value of our portfolio of leading broadcast assets and innovative digital brands. Tegna’s employees deserve tremendous credit for their commitment to serving our viewers with high-quality news and content that informs and supports our local communities,” said Dave Lougee, president and CEO of Tegna.
“At all levels, we have been tireless in our efforts to ensure Tegna effectively serves all of our stakeholders and I am immensely proud of these efforts. Our hard work has built a company that is a leading and trusted local news and media content provider in the markets it serves and has fostered a culture of diversity and inclusiveness. We are deeply gratified that Tegna’s new owners value and embrace our purpose to serve the greater good of our communities. Deb McDermott is an experienced and accomplished broadcast executive and we are confident in Tegna’s future under her leadership.”
The transaction is subject to approval by Tegna shareholders, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second half of 2022.
In a press release, the new station said it will become the largest minority-owned, woman-led broadcast group in the U.S.
In April of 2021, Standard General, demanded that Tegna open its books for an investigation into charges of bias and discrimination. At the time, Tegna said the allegations against it were “distorted.”
In a letter filed with the SEC, Standard General said it received “a six-page, single-spaced letter detailing further allegations that show ‘the roots of racist behavior within Tegna/Gannett are ugly and run deep,’ reflected in ‘egregious practices within Tegna/Gannett dating back decades.’”
Examples given by Standard General included stories of a Tegna vp in blackface winning a best costume award at an event, an Asian reporter being told “how to apply makeup so her eyes will look more ‘Western’” and Black and Latino on-air employees being “hammered for (their) dialect.”
Upon completion of the transaction, Tegna will become a private company and its shares will no longer be traded on the New York Stock Exchange.