Yesterday, reports had Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) making a joint bid, possibly with Jared Kushner, for Newsday, the Long Island-based paper. Now WSJ is reporting that the cable operator is willing to pay $650 million, though it doesn’t say anything on whether this is a joint bid or not. According to the report, an official bid could come in the next two days.
By all accounts, this is till a three-horse race. Early reports projecting News Corp (NYSE: NWS). the winner now seem to have been premature. Mort Zuckerman was willing to match Murdoch, and argued that his bid would have an easier time getting clearance. If true (and clearly these reports warrant some skepticism), Cablevision is ready to compete on price, which is probably Tribune’s top consideration. Note that Cablevision shareholders would rather see the company shedding non-core assets, rather than outbidding rivals on a newspaper.
Meanwhile, Fortune’s David Leonard argues that Zuckerman may not have any easier time getting regulatory clearance than Murdoch. While both sides would pitch a sale as a JV (allowing Tribune to keep small slice of the paper), The Daily News is actually profitable, unlike the New York Post. According to one analyst, this could prove decisive for Murdoch.
So you can understand the emerging dilemma: the only thing these three would buyers are interested in are regional synergies, which is exactly what makes the FCC nervous.