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The Deal: Sinclair Adds Eight Allbritton stations

Tickers in this article: SBGI

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Sinclair Broadcast Group said Monday it agreed to acquire eight television stations from Allbritton Communications for about $985 million.

The assets changing hands include seven ABC affiliated stations that cover almost 5% of the U.S. television households that are located in the Birmingham, Ala.; Charleston, S.C.; Little Rock, Ark.; and Harrisburg, Pa., markets, among others. A round-the-clock news channel in Washington is also included in the deal.

Baltimore-based Sinclair said it will fund the acquisition by tapping a bank loan and/or accessing the public debt markets.

Arlington, Va.-based Allbritton hired Moelis & Co., Paul Hastings and Dow Lohnes in May to help sell the stations so it can focus on its Politico news Web site.

"We are thrilled to add the Allbritton properties to our growing portfolio and national footprint," Sinclair CEO David Smith said in a statement. "To buy a full-blown news operation in our nation's capital and an infrastructure that allows us to be connected to our branches of government and be at the pulse of national issues is a once-in-a lifetime event."

Sinclair has spent the year expanding its television portfolio through acquisitions. In June, it acquired four television stations from Titan Television Broadcast Group for about $115 million. In February it purchased 18 television stations from Barrington Broadcasting Group for about $370 million.

Sinclair said Monday's acquisition represents 8.7 times cash flow, including $21.5 million in synergies.

As a result of the Allbritton purchase, Sinclair said it will sell already existing stations in Charleston, Harrisburg and Birmingham to help comply with FCC regulations. Sinclair expects to complete the deal by the end of the year, pending regulatory approval.

Sinclair shares were trading 1.4% higher, to $30.22, on Monday afternoon, giving it a market capitalization of about $2.5 billion.

Written by Demitri Diakantonis.