At&t corp.'s purchase of Tele-Communications Inc. and MediaOne Group made it the dominant M&A-driven company among the 100 Leading Media Cos.
AT&T capped the list in value of deals struck (from 1998 to mid-1999) at $159.7 billion, or 64% of $250.7 billion in M&A activity recorded by the top 100, according to data provided by Thomson Financial Securities Data.
Goldman Sachs & Co. led all investment bankers in the value of deals structured among the top 100, advising AT&T in its three lead acquisitions (see charts above).
Cable claimed $182.6 billion of the total from 60 deals-the size of the deals surely to diminish now that the market has been reduced to seven "major" players.
Eighty-one radio deals, largest of any medium, reached a valued of $16.8 billion. The heavy radio consolidation, as in cable, probably means fewer big deals in the near future. Small deals in both are likely to be plentiful, though.
TV is another matter. Relatively quiet the past two years with deals valued at $7.8 billion, TV will get a boost from the Federal Communications Commission's move to permit duopolies in local markets.
"TV will go crazy," says Fred Kalil, VP of Kalil & Co., a Tucson-based media broker. "Companies like Paxson, Granite, and Sinclair will see their station values enhanced several notches, to 13 to 14 times case flow," he says.
PUBLICS SPUR BIDDING
Mr. Kalil, whose company brokers acquisitions in TV and radio, notes that publicly held companies are bidding up properties in most media segments: "They're driving the higher radio multiples to 15 to 20 times cash flow; they can justify such multiples when their stock is trading at 20 to 30 times cash flow."
Financial buyers are driving up prices, often buying high to enter the market and then churning the property to a strategic buyer, says Robert Crosland, partner at Ad Media Partners, a New York investment bank and media advisor.
Higher benchmarks elevate market prices as well. Buyers and sellers of upgraded cable face Cox's $5,400 per sub benchmark that it paid recently for Media General's cable. The private-to-public movement also has helped establish benchmarks while fostering tax-efficient stock deals. Business press benchmarks weren't that solid until many in the sector turned public.
"The economy has been strong so long that it's become very lucrative to buy, even at the high prices," says Mr. Crosland, noting the economy shows few signs of softening. "We now have 18 assignments on the media side. That's how good