Scripps beats News Corp. to Travel Channel deal

Scripps beats News Corp. to Travel Channel deal

Scripps Networks Interactive has agreed to buy a controlling stake in the Travel Channel from Cox Communications outbidding a committed approach by News Corp. in a deal that values the cable-television network at $975 million.

The deal will be a joint venture for the ownership and management of Travel Channel Media which Scripps will control and the network will be run as part of the company’s growing portfolio of popular lifestyle media brands.
Scripps Networks will pay $181 million to get 65 percent of the channel and Cox will keep the remaining stake, the companies have revealed in a statement. Cox will contribute the channel and their partnership will carry $696 million in net debt.

The deal concludes an exploratory process that Cox began with their exclusive advisors Goldman, Sachs & Co. in June. The transaction will close by the end of January, the companies said. 
The network became the object of a bidding war after Cox said it had received unsolicited inquiries for the asset. Scripps Networks, the owner of Food Network, HGTV and the DIY Network, gets a channel distributed in about 95 million U.S. homes. Travel Channel’s size and genre made it attractive, according to Scripps Networks Chief Financial Officer Joseph NeCastro.

“This solid partnership we’re establishing today allows us to maintain an interest in Travel Channel while at the same time giving the network an opportunity to leverage the resources and expertise of a successful programmer like Scripps Networks Interactive,” said Cox Communications’ President Patrick Esser. “Scripps has an outstanding reputation as a company, an employer and a programmer. Over the past 15 years, Scripps Networks Interactive has built a portfolio of leading lifestyle programming brands and we think this complementary expertise will be a boon to Travel Channel’s future growth.”