NEW YORK — Walt Disney’s daughter and grandchildren are preparing to sell seven TV stations amassed by the late animation king himself under the name of Retlaw (“Walter” backward) Enterprises for an estimated $200 million.
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette has been hired to shop the station group, which consists of five CBS affiliates and two Fox affils.
Although the properties are in small markets, with the exception of the flagship station in Fresno, some of them are attractive. The station in Eugene, Ore., is known for its appealing demographics, while the one in Boise, Idaho, serves one of the country’s fastest-growing markets.
Retlaw’s cash flow is not known, but sources say the stations are underperforming, which means any buyer can count on rapidly improving their earnings. The biggest underperformer is the Fresno station, one knowledgeable person said.
Sources said Retlaw’s tax status as a private company means DLJ could break the company in two, selling the Fresno station to one buyer and the others elsewhere.
Sources said Retlaw is controlled by the Lillian Disney Trust and Diane Disney Miller, the daughter of Walt Disney and his widow, Lillian, who died in December. Additional ownership is believed to be spread among the Disneys’ 10 grandchildren.