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Fisher Cos. Is Expected to Buy Retlaw's 11 TV Stations

CALIFORNIA / News and Insight on Business in the Golden
State

November 19, 1998|DEBORA VRANA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Fisher Cos., a Seattle-based company with businesses ranging from broadcasting stations to flour milling, is expected to announce today that it has agreed to buy the TV broadcasting assets of Retlaw Enterprises, a Walt Disney family-owned company, for $215 million in cash, according to those familiar with the deal.

Under the agreement reached Wednesday, Fisher would buy 11 television stations, including KJEO-TV, the CBS affiliate in Fresno-Visalia, and stations in the Pacific Northwest and Georgia. The deal would boost to 13 from two the number of TV stations Fisher owns. It also owns 25 radio stations.

Once the deal closes, Fisher would become one of the leading TV station groups in the West. It would also bring the reach of Fisher's broadcasting division to more than 5% of U.S. households.

Fisher, founded in 1910, operates subsidiaries in flour milling and food distribution and real estate development in addition to broadcasting. On Wednesday, the company's stock rose $2 a share to close at $67 in over-the-counter bulletin board trading.

"This strategic transaction takes us to a new level," said William W. Krippaehne Jr., president and chief executive of Fisher. " . . . With the acquisition of the Retlaw stations, we are achieving our objective of growing in a region with the type of affiliate stations we know how to operate."

Once the deal closes, Fisher will have nine CBS stations, two ABC and two Fox stations.

North Hollywood-based Retlaw, whose primary shareholders are members of the Disney family, sold the rights to the Walt Disney name and likeness to Walt Disney Co. in 1982, but had held on to its television stations.

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