Global news organization Reuters is reporting that Viacom has told Scripps Networks Interactive that it will offer an all-cash bid to acquire the Knoxville-based network group.
Reuters cites “sources familiar with the matter” and says that Viacom’s move towards an all-cash payout could potentially come at the cost of its investment grade status. The New York-based parent company of MTV, VH1, the Paramount Network and other nets has a market value of US$14.3 billion, while currently carrying $12.17 billion in debt.
CNBC reported on Tuesday (July 25) that the family controlling 92% of Scripps’ voting stake is looking for at least 50% of the bid in cash. The move from Viacom, under chief executive officer Bob Bakish (pictured), would seem to tilt the odds of an acquisition in its favor, as, according to Reuters, Scripps’ other suitor, Discovery Communications, is not expected to offer an all-cash bid.
Scripps is home to Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, DIY, Cooking Channel and Great American Country. Its market value has been buoyed by the recent acquisition buzz, from $8.7 billion just prior to the initial reports to a current value of $10.6 billion.
While, on first blush, its lifestyle brands may seem to be a peculiar fit with assorted Viacom teen and millennial-skewing nets, the pairing could give Viacom more clout in negotiations with cable companies and streaming TV services.
Still, while the rumors have bolstered Scripps’ stock price, analysts have been mixed in their opinions regarding a potential merger.
Neither the Reuters story or the original Wall Street Journal report have disclosed the amounts of the bids. While Reuters says a decision from Scripps is expected in a matter of days, it is possible that no deal will be reached.
Spokespersons for Viacom, Scripps and Discovery declined to comment on the report.