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May 23, 2008 / Toby Dayton

Round 2 Bids For Landmark’s Weather Channel Expected To Be Below Owner’s Expectations

As I have written about (here and here), Landmark Communications (which also owns the Employment Guide) has placed its entire portfolio of companies on the sales block. The crown jewel of the lot is the Weather Channel, one of the last remaining independent cable channels. Not only does the weather channel enjoy impressive viewership numbers, but it drives enormous traffic to its web site. It truly is one of the great examples of multimedia/multi-channel synergy.

Round 2 bids from interested buyers are due Friday (this week or next I’m not sure – no article I saw today made it clear which Friday they were talking about) and the $5 billion pricetag that Landmark publicly stated they were anticipating has proven to be wildly overstated, perhaps by as much as 60%.

As reported in the WSJ today, the pool of likely buyers is thinning and includes only Time Warner and a partnership between GE and the Blackstone Group (who are also working on trying to save the Minneapolis Star Tribune). Liberty Media, CBS, and Comcast have all dropped out of the auction after expressing initial interest in March. According to the Journal, the bids are expected to be in the $3-4 billion range. Not a bad pile of cash for Landmark, but possibly well below their expectations. Of course, the $5 billion number they threw out there publicly may have been nothing more than posturing, but it still makes the private equity firm look a little foolish.

[tags]The Weather Channel, Landmark Communications, GE, The Blackstone Group, Timw Warner, Liberty Media, CBS, Comcast, Cable Channels, Media Assets, Independent Cable Channels, How Much Is A Cable Channel Worth?, Bluffing In Poker[/tags]