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Sinclair acquiring Seattle’s Fisher Broadcasting for $361M

SEATTLE — Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. said Thursday that it has agreed to buy Fisher Communications Inc. for about $361 million, expanding its coverage westward.

Fisher had announced in January that it was exploring its strategic alternatives. The Seattle-based company owns 20 TV stations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California and three radio stations in the Seattle market.

Sinclair says it owns or has deals to acquire interests in 134 television stations in 69 markets.

Under the terms of the deal, Sinclair will pay $41 per share for Fisher, a 5 percent premium over Fisher’s closing share price on Wednesday.

The news sent shares of both companies climbing to multi-year highs in midday trading Thursday.

Based on Fisher’s 8.8 million outstanding shares, the deal is worth about $361 million. The companies value the deal at about $373.3 million. They say Fisher has no long-term debt and is expected to have about $20 million to $25 million of working capital when the deal closes.

In addition to its radio and TV stations, Fisher previously reached agreements to provide certain operating services for three TV stations, including two simulcasts, pending regulatory approval.

Fisher, started in 1910, said its board concluded after the review of its strategic options that the deal with Sinclair was the best way to maximize value for its shareholders.

Sinclair, based in Hunt Valley, Md., said the acquisition would significantly expand its West Coast presence, particularly in the key Seattle and Portland, Ore., markets.

The deal requires approval from regulators and Fisher shareholders, but is expected to close in the third quarter.

Sinclair said it expects to finance the acquisition with cash on hand, a bank loan or by accessing the capital markets.

In midday trading, Fisher shares rose $2.09, or 5.4 percent, to $41.01 after peaking at $41.09 earlier in the day and marking their highest point since December 2007.

Sinclair shares rose $1.57, or 7.2 percent to $23.40 after rising earlier as high as $23.94, its highest level since1998. The company’s shares have soared in recent weeks, gaining about 56 percent since the end of February.