Scripps Networks for sale?

Scripps Networks has been busy expanding and developing its overseas distribution this past year, and in the process buying UK-based Travel Channel International (for $107 million), all of which is helping drive the broadcaster and media owner to a very healthy $9.5 billion annual revenue. On the TV side of the business it has the second-fastest projected sales growth forecast to 2015 amongst the top 13 US media companies.  Scripps is also a 50 per cent owner of the UKTV bouquet of channels (BBC Worldwide owns the rest).

Scripps Networks split away from E W Scripps’ newspaper assets back in 2008, and it is reported that founder E W Scripps Trust, which holds 93.5 per cent of the broadcaster’s voting shares, is being dissolved according to an October 19th statement. The decision means a potential sale is again said to be being discussed.

Back at the beginning of the year it was reported that discussions were taking place with the Walt Disney Co about a possible asset sale. Those talks, at the time, came to naught, but now a couple of Wall Street analysts are prediction action. Disney’s name is still in the frame although CitiGroup is also talking about Time Warner being a possible bidder.

And it is Scripps’ revenue forecasts that are exciting interest. Revenues are expected to expand around 23.9 per cent between this year and 2015, only just behind Discovery’s 24.1 per cent, and well ahead of most of its media peers.

But a purchase is not going to be cheap. Scripps Networks share price has rocketed 50 per cent this year to $60+. Given that most now expect incoming buyers to pay a healthy premium some analysts are predicting a sale price of better than $80 a share – and it might be more.

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