NBC, equity firms buy Weather Channel

July 7, 2008 at 3:07 PM
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NEW YORK, July 7 (UPI) -- Skies are sunny for NBC Universal and two private equity firms after they sealed a multibillion-dollar deal for The Weather Channel, Wall Street sources said.

NBC and the private equity firms Bain Capital and the Blackstone Group will pony up nearly $3.5 billion, people briefed on the matter told The New York Times. If that is the correct purchase price, it is less than the $5 billion that The Weather Channel's parent, Landmark Communications, sought in January when it offered for sale the cable channel and related properties such as weather.com.

More than half of the price will be paid in equity, to be divided roughly equally among the three buyers, sources told the Times.

The Weather Channel is the leading brand of weather information on television, reaching 96 million households on basic cable, Landmark said. Weather.com gets nearly 40 million hits a month.

Terms of the deal call for The Weather Channel to be run as an independent operation instead of being merged with NBC Weather Plus, which was set up to challenge The Weather Channel, but was more of an also-ran. Plans for NBC Weather Plus have not been determined, NBC official said.

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