Coconut Palm plants Equity B’casting

Affiliate operates 132 stations in smaller markets

MIAMI — Equity Broadcasting Corp., the second-largest affiliate of the Univision and Telefutura networks, will be acquired by Coconut Palm Acquisition Corp. in a deal valued at $267 million.

Price will be paid in a combination of Coconut Palm stock, cash and assumption of Equity Broadcasting debt.

Little Rock, Ark.-based Equity Broadcasting operates 132 TV stations in smaller markets and midsized cities, including 22 Univision and Telefutura affiliates.

With the sale, Univision has agreed to extend affil accords for 15 years in all of Equity’s existing markets and award affiliation rights in three more markets.

The purchase is scheduled to close by June 15, subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals.

Coconut Palm said Equity’s board has approved the deal and that Equity’s four largest shareholders — among them Univision — support it.

Coconut Palm’s chairman and CEO is Richard Rochon, a former president of H. Wayne Huizenga’s private investment company. Rochon aims to focus on Spanish-language media, according to a statement.

Equity Broadcasting also operates ABC, RTN, Fox, UPN and WB affils.

Coconut Palm, based in Boca Raton, Fla., said it has $63.1 million in cash in trust, and whatever isn’t used to pay for merger costs will be earmarked for programming, internal expansion and new acquisitions.

Once the merger is completed, Coconut Palm will change the name to Equity Media Group and will apply to trade on the Nasdaq. Coconut Palm is now an over-the-counter stock.

Equity’s president and CEO Larry Morton will keep his title post-acquisition, and the new company will maintain its Little Rock HQ, with other offices in Gotham and Boca Raton.

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