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E.W. Scripps Announces Acquisition Of ION Media; Berkshire Hathaway To Invest In Scripps

The E.W. Scripps Company (SSP) announced it will buy ION Media for $2.65 billion. The acquisition is anticipated to be financed with $1.85 billion of secured and unsecured debt and a $600 million investment from Berkshire Hathaway in preferred stock.

ION Media, based in West Palm Beach, Florida, operates a national television network featuring popular crime and justice procedural programming. ION distributes its programming through Federal Communications Commission-licensed television stations it owns in 62 markets and 124 affiliated TV stations, reaching 96% of U.S. homes. It is being purchased from an entity controlled by Black Diamond Capital Management.

E.W. Scripps said the acquisition will yield $500 million in synergies, most of which are contractually based, over the next six years. Scripps will divest of 23 ION stations. The company has agreed to a transaction with a buyer, who has agreed to maintain ION affiliations for the stations.

Berkshire Hathaway will make a $600 million preferred equity investment in Scripps to finance the acquisition. Berkshire Hathaway also will receive a warrant to purchase up to 23.1 million Class A shares, at an exercise price of $13 per share.

Shares of The E.W. Scripps Company were up 44% in pre-market trade on Thursday.

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