Apollo Global Management LLC has approached Tegna Inc. about a deal as the private-equity firm looks to bulk up its ownership of television stations, according to The Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the matter.

Apollo first contacted Tegna about a potential transaction at the beginning of the year, some of the people said.

It sent a letter to the board in February, expressing interest in buying the company at a premium, and it has remained in regular contact despite so far being rebuffed, the people said.

Apollo would also consider other options, such as merging its stations with Tegna or selling them to the company.

Tegna has a market value of roughly $3 billion.  Tegna’s shares are up about 38% so far this year, including closing up roughly 10% Friday after The Wall Street Journal reported on the approach.

Apollo envisions combining Tegna’s assets with those of Cox Media Group, in which it agreed to acquire a majority stake in February, the people familiar with the matter said.

Apollo also struck a deal earlier this year to acquire 20 stations owned by closely held Northwest Broadcasting Inc., which would be merged into the larger TV-station group.

Together, the deals would quickly make Apollo one of the nation’s biggest owners of local TV stations.

With 51 TV stations, Tegna reaches just over 35% of U.S. TV households. That doesn’t include the 11 stations it has agreed to acquire from Nexstar.

If Apollo buys Tegna and closes all of its other the deals, it will own 85 stations, or nearly 100 including the Nexstar stations that Tegna has agreed to buy.

Sources say Apollo expects both transactions to close in September.

Stay tuned.

More News from Tuesday, August 20, 2019