Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Bonneville-to-Hubbard deal ... the biggest radio deal since 2006.

Hubbard pays “less than 10 times cash flow.”

That’s the answer to the question that's on everyone’s lips – and it's important, because this transaction sets the benchmark for big market deals. But exercise caution in talking about cash-flow multiples here, since Bonneville probably runs somewhat lower margins than its peers, and Bruce Reese and Drew Horowitz probably know where to goose them a little.

Family-owned Hubbard’s been in the broadcasting business since the 1920s and currently owns just three radio stations in its home market of Minneapolis-St. Paul. It has extensive TV interests covering the Twin Cities (KSTP-TV), Albuquerque (where Hubbard once had KKOB-AM/770), Albany, Rochester, and some smaller midwestern markets.

It also owns a piece of the Ovation cable channel and started up Reelz in 2006. One other piece of relevant history – in 1998 Stan Hubbard sold his USSB satellite TV service to DirecTV for $1.6 billion.

That’s right - “billion.” As one TRI reader marvels, “they’re doing this Bonneville deal with their own capital, the family money.”

True, they’ve got debt financing commitments from Morgan Stanley Senior Funding and Goldman Sachs Bank USA. But just like Larry Wilson in Portland, Oregon, this is cold-hard cash on the line from operators who are betting on the radio business.