Shares of Meredith Corp. rose nearly 10 percent Tuesday to $50.47 after the company unveiled details of its merger with Media General Inc.
Media General, which agreed to buy Meredith for roughly $2.4 billion in cash and stock, will lead to further consolidation of the broadcast industry and establish the new hybrid company, dubbed Meredith Media General, as the third-largest owner of major network affiliates with 88 stations in 54 markets. The company boasted that it will reach 30 percent of U.S. households and it anticipates $80 million in synergies within the first two years. The deal is expected to close at the end of June 2016.
Under the terms of the deal, Meredith shareholders will receive cash and stock valued at $51.53 a share, which represents a 12 percent premium to the company’s closing stock price on Sept. 4. According to the media firm, which also publishes magazines such as Parents, Better Homes and Gardens, and Shape, the enterprise value of the transaction is about $3.1 billion, including debt.
A spokesman for Meredith said the deal would not impact the firm’s magazine strategy, and part of Media General’s interest in Meredith was linked to the branded content the company creates through its magazine brands and digital media properties, as well as its female-centric Millennial audience.
Meredith chief executive officer Stephen Lacy will helm the new Meredith Media General as ceo and president. Meredith’s chief financial officer Joseph Ceryanec will retain his role at the new company, while executives from both companies will be combined. Meredith Media General will maintain corporate offices in Des Moines and Richmond, but the company will be incorporated in Virginia.
On a call to investors Tuesday, Lacy said under the merger, the companies are forecasting $500 million in revenue annually from the digital offerings of both firms. He said the company expects pro-forma annual revenues of $3 billion and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of more than $900 million.
“This merger will create a strong and efficient company positioned to realize the significant earnings and cash flow potential of local broadcasting; leverage the unparalleled reach and rich content-creation capabilities of Meredith’s national brands; and capture the rapidly developing growth potential of the digital media space,” Lacy said. “It also positions Meredith Media General to deliver enhanced shareholder value and participate in future industry consolidation.”
Meredith shareholders will get $34.57 in cash and 1.5214 shares of the new company for each share held and Media General shareholders will receive one share of the new company for each share held.
While Wall Street smiled on Meredith for the deal, it wasn’t as optimistic when it came to Media General, which exited the print business in 2012 when it sold the majority of its newspapers to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway for $142 million. On Tuesday, shares of Media General dipped 6 percent at the end of trading to $10.48.