Tribune Media terminated its $3.9 billion merger deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group and is suing for $1 billion in damages, contending Sinclair’s negotiations with regulators were “belligerent and unnecessarily protracted.” “Our merger cannot be completed within an acceptable timeframe, if ever,” said Tribune CEO Peter Kern. Tribune pulled the plug after a Wednesday deadline passed that allowed the company to walk away. In a call with investors Thursday, Kern said a hostile regulatory environment wasn’t the cause of the deal’s collapse, “but more how this transaction was prosecuted by our merger partner.” As for a different deal? “We feel the environment remains welcoming and open to sensible consolidation.”
In response, Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said it was “unfortunate” that Tribune terminated their agreement, but “we strongly believe in the long term outlook of our Company and disagree with the market’s current discounted view on our share price.” The announcement of Sinclair’s new $1 billion share repurchase helped matters, boosting shares 2.2%.