Sinclair to acquire 18 TV stations for $370 million

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.'s stock soared a day after it announced plans to buy 18 television stations owned by Barrington Broadcasting Group for $370 million.

The Hunt Valley broadcaster's stock leapt 12.7 percent to end Friday at $15.88 a share.

Thursday's announcement was Sinclair's second this week of a planned acquisition. Sinclair had said Monday it would purchase four TV stations from Cox Media Group for $99 million.

The 24 Barrington stations — a mix of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CW affiliates — are located in 15 markets ranging from upstate New York to South Carolina and as far west as Colorado. The deal includes an agreement to operate or provide sales services to another six of Barrington's stations.

"This week, we launched our small market television group when we announced we would be acquiring certain of the Cox Media television stations," said David Smith, Sinclair's CEO and president, in a statement. "The Barrington stations are an important part of that strategy, providing meaningful scale to the group."

Sinclair also announced late Thursday that it reached an agreement with DirecTV that allows the satellite company to continue to carry Sinclair-owned stations and their programs. Sinclair had warned that DirecTV customers could lose access to stations, such as WBFF Fox 45 and WNUV The CW in Baltimore, if the companies failed to renegotiate a contract that expired Thursday. The companies extended the existing agreement while they work out a formal agreement, during which time Sinclair stations will be carried by DirecTV.

The Barrington purchase, subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission and expected to close in the second quarter, would be financed through a bank loan and by accessing capital markets. Sinclair said it would make a $20 million deposit.

The Barrington and Cox stations will be run by Chesapeake TV. Sinclair said it hired Steve Pruett, former CEO of Communications Corp. of America, as CEO of Chesapeake TV.

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