NET NEWS: WESTINGHOUSE SELLING THE FARM TO BUY THE RANCH?
Westinghouse Electric Corp., "in need of cash to finance a
widely expected $5 billion takeover of CBS Inc.," agreed
yesterday to sell its real estate unit in a $556M deal, according
to REUTERS. The sale of the real estate unit, Westinghouse
Communities Inc., should help the company in its CBS bid, but
analysts say they may have to sell off other units, including
defense electronics, refrigeration and/or power generation
(REUTERS/DAILY VARIETY, 7/25). USA TODAY reports, even as the
real estate sale was improving Westinghouse's cash standing,
"investor's began to question the [CBS] deal's prospects."
Others still predict that other players -- Ted Turner, Disney,
Seagram's, Viacom --will enter a bidding war for CBS once the
network is put into play, although there is still "no evidence"
of anyone making another bid (Lieberman & Henry, USA TODAY,
7/25). In Boston, Fredric Biddle writes, "Any number of ploys
worthy of J.R. Ewing and Machiavelli could make Turner or Seagram
a CBS player" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/25). Analyst Nicholas Heymann, of
County NatWest, said Westinghouse needs an "equity partner," such
as Seagram's to manage the network and sell investors on the deal
(ELECTRONIC MEDIA, 7/24 issue). But BROADCASTING & CABLE reports
that Westinghouse is still planning a "solo bid," but could take
on minority partners "to reduce debt after the deal is done"
(B&C, 7/24 issue).
CAP CITIES/ABC EARNINGS REPORT: Captial Cities/ABC's 2nd
quarter earnings "failed to meet analyst expectations because of
rising newsprint costs and increased payments to its affiliated
television stations," according to BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS. Net
income rose 10% to $208.9M or $1.36 a share, from $189.5M or
$1.23 a share. Analysts had expected a jump to $1.40 a share.
Revenue increased 7.2% to $1.65B. The broadcasting group had an
operating profit of $322M, up 4.8% from a year ago. ESPN
reported "significant gains, the company said, without
elaborating" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/25). The WALL STREET JOURNAL cited
strong ad demand which boosted the results and led to ABC's 10%
income gain (Elizabeth Jensen, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/25). The
N.Y. POST noted that Cap Cities/ ABC stock "fell sharply" -- down
3 7/8 to 97 3/4 -- upon release of the report (Greg Clarkin, N.Y.
POST, 7/25). DONE DEAL: Gannett, publisher of USA Today, said
yesterday that it will purchase Multimedia Inc. for $1.7B.
Multimedia is best known as syndicator of such TV shows as
Donahue, Sally Jesse Raphael and Rush Limbaugh. But the
company's holdings also include radio and TV stations and cable
TV outlets. In Washington, Paul Farhi writes the deal "will
allow Gannett to compete more aggressively against the emerging
handful of media giants," such as Time Warner, News Corp. and
Viacom (WASHINGTON POST, 7/25).
FOX TO GET FCC O.K.: FCC sources tell ELECTRONIC MEDIA that
the agency's staff is recommending that Fox's foreign ownership
be officially approved at the FCC's July 28 meeting (Doug
Halonen, ELECTRONIC MEDIA, 7/24 issue).