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Judge rules in favor of CNBC bid to buy FNN.

Judge rules in favor of CNBC bid to buy FNN

CNBC re-emerged as the likely buyer of Financial News Network after a federal bankruptcy court judge ruled in favor of its newly sweetened $115 million bid over a similar amount offered by a joint venture of Dow Jones & Co. and Westinghouse Broadcasting's Group W Broadcasting.

Dow Jones/Group W had originally bid $90 million for the FNN media business, but the company, which is under Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, nixed that agreement in principle for a definitive deal from CNBC for $105 million cash. Dow Jones/Group W countered with a $115 million bid, the minimum counteroffer set by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Francis G. Conrad.

Judge Conrad reportedly ruled that the Dow Jones/Group W counterbid did not conform to all the guidelines for bids that he had established.

Conrad had said any new bids must be at least $10 million above the $105 million CNBC bid, which Dow Jones/Group W met, but the Dow Jones/Group W bid reportedly did not meet the criteria of leaving the bid open until May 31.

The deadline for the partnership's offer was just before midnight on April 3, the day of the hearing.

Peter G. Skinner, senior vice president of Dow Jones, was quoted as saying that, since CNBC was in the process of integrating FNN businesses, FNN's value as an independent channel was damaged. It was "intolerable to keep our bid on the table . . . . Even the judge said FNN was a depreciating property, so how could we leave a bid on the table for another two months?"

The CNBC deal, however, is subject to approval by the Federal Trade Commission, which is expected to complete its investigation into whether a CNBC acquisition of FNN violates antitrust regulations. The two stations are the only providers of continuous business news on cable.

Fourteen state attorneys general had asked Judge Conrad not to accept the CNBC bid because it would violate antitrust statutes.

No deal is expected to be completed until the FTC releases the results of its investigation, which is slated for April 19.

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Title Annotation:Consumer News and Business Channel Partnership; Financial News Network
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Date:Apr 13, 1991
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