Tribune Media launches auction of digital, data business: sources

Tue Jun 14, 2016 5:01pm EDT
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By Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) - Tribune Media Co, one of the largest U.S. TV station operators, has launched an auction to divest its digital and data business in a sale it hopes will fetch at least $800 million, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The move represents the first asset sale by Tribune Media after it announced in February that it had hired investment banks Moelis & Co and Guggenheim Securities to explore strategic alternatives. The company, which has a market capitalization of $3.3 billion, owns 42 broadcast stations and stakes in the Food Network and job postings website CareerBuilder.

The digital and data unit, which includes the Gracenote business the company acquired from Sony for $170 million in 2014, collects and distributes content and data to music and online video services, cable companies and consumer devices.

The digital and data unit generated $53.2 million in operating revenue for the three months ended March 31, according to Tribune Media's latest earnings release. It represented 11 percent of the company's consolidated operating revenue last year.

The asset could appeal to private equity firms as well as other companies in the sector, the people added. The process is expected to wrap up at the end of the summer or early fall, one of the people said.

While Tribune is exploring a sale of this unit, it could decide to also shed other parts of its business as part of its strategic review, the people added, asking not to be identified because the sale process is confidential.

Tribune Media declined to comment.

Higher programming costs and a challenging advertising environment have put pressure on Tribune Media to rethink its strategy.   Continued...

Undated handout of the Tribune Media logo.