ITHACA, N.Y. — Two Southern investors have agreed to buy Park Communications Inc., a newspaper and broadcasting group, for $711.4 million, Park's board announced Wednesday.
Under the tentative agreement, all nine Park television stations, 22 radio stations and 106 newspaper publications would be sold to Donald R. Tomlin and Gary B. Knapp.
Completion of the deal is contingent upon the approval of federal regulators.
The approval of Park's shareholders is also needed, but that is considered to be a formality. The estate of founder Roy H. Park, which owns nearly 90% of the company's stock, favors the transaction, Park spokesman Jack Claiborne said.
Park Communications, one of the nation's biggest media groups, was put up for sale following the death of Roy H. Park at age 83 in October, 1993. Park took the fortune he made by helping create Duncan Hines foods and built Park Communications by collecting small-city newspapers and broadcast outlets.
Tomlin is a Columbia, S.C., financial planner who previously invested in radio stations in South Carolina, North Carolina and Indiana, said John Fiorini, a Washington attorney representing the prospective buyers. Tomlin has since divested those holdings.
Knapp is a securities brokerage dealer in Lexington, Ky., and former University of Houston professor, Fiorini said.
Fiorini said the two have been interested in buying Park since shortly after it went up for sale in March.
Knapp and Tomlin will finance the deal in part through a $573.4-million loan from Retirement Systems of Alabama, Fiorini said.
Park settled on Knapp and Tomlin over a "sizable" number of other offers, Claiborne said. He declined to give an exact number or reveal whether Knapp and Tomlin were the high bidders.
The purchase price offered by the Tomlin-Knapp group represents a per-share price of about $30.50, based on the 23.3 million outstanding shares of Park Communications stock as of Sept. 30.
Park Communications closed up 87.5 cents at $28.50 on the Nasdaq.
Paul T. Sweeney, media analyst for Wheat First Butcher Singer of Richmond, Va., said the sales price is "pretty much in line" with what analysts had expected.
"The question is, would they sell the company as a whole or in parts?" he said.