Travel Channel offers may reach $1 Billion


An update to our previous story: The NY Times reports Cox Communications is expected to command close to a billion dollars for the Travel Channel, people close to the bidding war for the channel said. At least one of the offers exceeds $900 million, they told the paper. The company is entertaining bids from a number of media companies, including the News Corporation and Scripps Networks.

When Cox was first approached about a potential sale in June, analysts said the channel could command $600 million to $700 million. The cable company said that month that it had retained Goldman Sachs to weigh its strategic options for the channel, and it has not commented since then.

Two people with knowledge of the auction told NYT that the News Corp. was the leading bidder, but others cautioned that the companies were not yet in exclusive negotiations.

News Corp. already owns the National Geographic Channel and plans to convert its Fox Reality Channel into a spinoff wildlife destination called National Geographic Wild.

Scripps has a strong track record as the operator of the Food Network, HGTV and other channels. It recently announced a plan to reformat one of its niche properties, Fine Living, into the Cooking Channel.

As we mentioned in our previous article, several private equity firms, including Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, THL Partners and Providence Equity Partners, expressed interest in the Travel Channel as well. But News Corp. and Scripps eventually emerged as the leading candidates, said NYT.

Cox is said to be interested in retaining a minority stake in the channel.

Discovery Communications operated the Travel Channel until 2007. Cox got Travel when its stake in Discovery was divested that year.