King bros. key in KW-CBS deal

There’s no King World without Roger and Michael.

That’s the gist of a clause in the merger agreement struck last week between King World and CBS stipulating that the deal can be called off if either one of the King brothers “has died, become incapacitated or otherwise not be in a position to perform his obligations” to the company.

The specificity of the language struck some Wall Streeters as unusual, but it was likely included to protect CBS against the outside chance of King World losing its biggest moneymakers between now and midyear when the deal is expected to close. King World’s separate distribution deals with Oprah Winfrey and Sony, producer of “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!,” allow those producers to reclaim their distribution rights if KW chairman Roger King is no longer overseeing sales.

Another tidbit from the initial Securities and Exchange Commission filing on the merger pact: King World will have to pay CBS a stiff $90 million termination fee (plus up to $10 million in expenses) if it pulls out of the $2.5 billion stock swap deal.

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