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Sinclair explores selling roughly 30% of its broadcast stations, sources say

BusinessSinclair explores selling roughly 30% of its broadcast stations, sources say


Signage stands outside the Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. headquarters in Cockeysville, Maryland, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. 

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Sinclair, one of the largest owners of broadcast stations in the U.S., is looking to sell more than 30% of its footprint, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company has hired Moelis as its investment banker and has identified more than 60 stations in various regions of the U.S. that it would be willing to sell, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. Sinclair owns or operates 185 TV stations in 86 markets.

The stations are a mix of affiliates including Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS and the CW. If sold together, their average revenue for 2023 and 2024 is estimated to be $1.56 billion, the people said. Sinclair is willing to sell all or some of the stations, which are in top markets like Minneapolis; Portland, Ore.; Pittsburgh; Austin, Texas and Fresno, Calif., among others.

Sinclair Chief Executive Officer Chris Ripley said Wednesday that the company is open to offloading parts of its business, without providing specifics.

“As we’ve always stated, we have no sacred cows,” Ripley said during his company’s earnings conference call. “We want to unlock the sum of the parts valuation that we think we’re grossly undervalued for. And to the extent that asset sales makes sense in order to unlock that value and help us de-lever, then that’s something that we’d be open to as well.”

The company began officially shopping them in February, one of the people said.

Spokespeople for Sinclair and Moelis declined to comment.

Sinclair is also exploring options for its Tennis Channel, a cable TV network that features the sport and pickleball matches, the people said. Bloomberg earlier reported that development.

Broadcast TV station groups have suffered in the past five years as millions of Americans have canceled traditional pay TV. Most stations make money from so-called retransmission fees, paid on a per-subscriber rate by traditional TV distributors, such as Comcast, DirecTV, and Charter, for the right to carry the stations.

Sinclair has lost more than 70% of its market value in the last five years. The company’s market capitalization is about $975 million with an enterprise value of about $4.7 billion.

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