All but about 4% of the shares of Hearst-Argyle Television are now owned by Hearst Corporation, which will shortly take it private. The offer to buy out public shareholders for $4.50 per share expired on Tuesday.
The buyout of public shareholders was endorsed last month by Hearst-Argyle’s independent directors after Hearst Corporation increased its offer by 50 cents to $4.50 per share. That was a far cry from the $23.50 offer in 2007 that was rejected – but the advertising market for broadcasting has also changed since then. This time, Hearst Corp. had no trouble winning acceptance by most other shareholders.
As of the 5:00 pm ET Tuesday (6/2) deadline, 13,763,289 shares of Hearst-Argyle stock had been tendered for the buyout, some 80% of the shares not already owned by Hearst Corporation. That increased Hearst Corp. ownership to approximately 96% of the stock of the TV company.
Hearst Corp. said it expects to complete a merger in the next few days and Hearst-Argyle’s stock will cease public trading. Holders of the remaining 4% will be eligible to receive the same $4.50 per share in payment for their cancelled stock.
Hearst-Argyle Television owns 26 television stations. It also manages three other TV stations and two radio stations in Baltimore. Those radio stations are already owned by Hearst Corporation.
RBR/TVBR observation: Although there are certainly other broadcasting companies that would like to go private, that’s not likely to happen for anyone else until the financial markets get a lot better. For now, it looks like Hearst-Argyle and Cox Radio were the only ones whose primary shareholders had the financial wherewithal to get the job done.