Weather Tests M&A Climate
January 3, 2008 12:55 PM
Landmark Communications president and CEO Decker Anstrom confirmed a report that appeared in the New York Times today that the company has retained JPMorgan Chase to sell the Weather Channel and Lehman Brothers to handle Landmark’s other holdings that include two powerhouse TV stations in Las Vegas and Nashville and several newspapers.
Among the interested buyers of the Weather Channel and its popular weather.com site are General Electric, News Corporation and Comcast Communications. Anstrom told me those companies were potential buyers but also said there were others.
He said he expects the sale to go quickly and that he probably would not be a part of the transition if a sale indeed takes place. “I am the biggest redundancy,” he said about what role he might play with a new owner.
The Weather Channel assets alone are expected to fetch north of $5 billion, but a deal is far from done, although Anstrom suspects it will happen quickly.
Staffers were notified by email that a sale might be pending and business unit managers held town meetings to openly discuss what was going on at the privately held company. A deal indeed sounds imminent, given that employees were given details about severance, 12 weeks for all employees who might be affected, plus two weeks per each year of service.
Whether a deal happens quickly is another story in this economic climate. CNBC reported today that merger and acquisition activity for 2008 has had its slowest start out the gate in eight years.
So, for the oddsmakers out there, which media giant will buy the Weather Channel and how long will the deal take, given the business climate so far?