King World’s search for strategic partners could make it a player in Ted Turner’s attempts to buy CBS, some Wall Streeters say.
One scenario is that King World could play a role similar to that played by Blockbuster in Viacom’s takeover of Paramount Communications. Given King World’s cash stash and its cash-generating ability, that might appear to work.
Any such transaction has huge obstacles to surmount, however, not the least of which would be the divergent personalities of the King brothers and Turner.
King World recently hired investment bank Goldman Sachs in another attempt at shopping the company around, and the syndicator subsequently met with CBS chairman Larry Tisch and planned meetings with NBC, ABC and Sony.
In the past year King World has talked to possible buyers of the company and considered making acquisitions itself. One potential purchase was Goodson Prods., although in that case the asking price was too high.
The bottom line, sources say, is that King World wants to diversify. Its business is almost entirely in firstrun syndication – and its only investment outside of that, in a TV station, is for sale.
As a player in a Turner bid for CBS, the Kings bring an annual cash flow of $150 million, which can support between $700 million and $800 million in debt. If Turner took over King World in a stock-swap bid, the increased cash flow could reduce by $1.2 billion the funds Turner needs to raise for a CBS bid.
That’s a big proportion of the $5 billion needed for a CBS takeover, given that CBS’ own operations support close to $3 billion of debt.
King World refuses to comment, but sources say it would consider any transaction that adds value.