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AT&T completes Otter Media takeover; Sinclair-Tribune merger deal collapses


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AT&T completes Otter Media takeover; Sinclair-Tribune merger deal collapses

* Tribune Media Co. has terminated its merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. The company also sued Sinclair in the Delaware Chancery Court for allegedly breaching the merger agreement between the two companies. The lawsuit seeks compensation for all losses incurred as a result of Sinclair's material breaches of the agreement. Tribune Media claimed that Sinclair engaged in "unnecessarily aggressive and protracted negotiations" with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission over regulatory requirements, refused to sell stations in the markets as required to win approval and proposed aggressive divestment structures and related-party sales that were either rejected outright or posed a high risk of rejection and delay — all in derogation of Sinclair's contractual obligations, according to Tribune's statement.

* Cox Business, the commercial division of Cox Communications Inc., acquired RapidScale, a managed and hybrid managed cloud services provider. The acquisition is expected to enhance Cox Business' managed services portfolio by combining transport and connectivity with RapidScale's managed and hybrid managed cloud offerings, the company said Aug. 9.

* Innovativ Media Group Inc. closed the acquisition of Demand Brands Inc. Innovativ Media Group also named Bruce Hannan and Guy Peckham new company governors, board members and officers, according to an Aug. 9 news release. The company said it intends to change its name to reflect the expanding focus of its business, which develops, produces and distributes digital entertainment and other multimedia content.

* Salem Media Group Inc. acquired a Bible reader app and sold a radio station in Omaha, Neb., in August, the company disclosed in an earnings release. Salem on Aug. 8 disclosed several transactions that it has completed since April 1, which included acquiring on Aug. 7 the bible reader app Just1Word for $300,000 in cash, with up to an additional $100,000 of contingent earnout consideration that will be paid in the next two years, depending on the achievement of certain revenue benchmarks. The company also sold radio station KGBI-FM in Omaha, Neb., for $3.2 million, on Aug. 6.

* E.W. Scripps Co. struck an agreement to sell eight radio stations in Boise, Idaho, and Tucson, Ariz., to Lotus Communications Corp. Lotus will acquire KMXZ, KFFN, KQTH and KTGV in Tucson and KJOT, KQXR, KRVB and KTHI in Boise for $8 million. Lotus currently owns four radio stations in the Tucson market and will immediately divest stations KQTH and KTGV to meet the Federal Communications Commission rules that limit station ownership in single markets. The deal is expected to complete in the fourth quarter.

* AT&T Inc. acquired Chernin Group LLC's controlling interest in subscription, advertising and content company Otter Media Holdings LLC, the four-year-old joint venture between the two companies. The acquisition will not change the company’s plan to reduce its net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio to the 2.5x range by the end of 2019 and to its historical range by the end of 2022, AT&T said. Otter Media will become part of AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit. Tony Goncalves, who was appointed Otter Media CEO earlier this year, will continue to run the company, according to an Aug. 7 news release.

* U.S. media giant 21st Century Fox Inc. left its takeover bid for British pay TV company Sky PLC unchanged at £14.00 per share, triggering a new bidding period under U.K. takeover rules. In an Aug. 7 offer document that extends the ongoing high-stakes bidding war with Comcast Corp., Fox formalized its offer for the 61% of Sky that it does not already own, valuing the company at £24.5 billion. For now, the takeover requires approval from 75% of independent Sky shareholders, among other conditions, but Fox said that it reserved the right to lower its acceptance condition to a simple majority. The deadline for a new bid is Sept. 22.

* Alphabet Inc. unit Google LLC acquired GraphicsFuzz Ltd., a company that builds a framework to test the security and reliability of Android graphics drivers. According to an Aug. 6 post on the GraphicsFuzz website, its team will join Google's Android Graphics Team to integrate their graphics driver testing technology within the Android ecosystem.

* Skyworks Solutions Inc. has agreed to buy fabless semiconductor supplier Avnera Corp. for $405 million in a deal that the former expects to improve its gross margin and bolster its target addressable market by over $5 billion. The analog semiconductor maker will pay the amount in cash to Avnera's equity holders by September, when the transaction is set to close, with up to an additional $20 million if Avnera exceeds certain performance targets over a 12-month post-closing period.

* Warner Music Group Corp. sold its remaining stake in Spotify Technology SA. Warner Music Group CEO Steve Cooper said during an earnings conference call that the sale resulted in $126 million "credited to artist accounts on their June 30 royalty statements which are issued around the world in August and September," according to a Variety report. In May, the company sold nearly 75% of its Spotify equity for about $400 million.

* Social Reality Inc. on Aug. 6 closed on the sale of its healthcare and pharmaceutical business SRAXmd to a group of institutional investors, including Halyard Capital Management LLC. The internet advertising and platform technology company said Aug. 7 that it received $33.5 million in cash less transaction expenses. Social Reality will receive an additional $9 million as an earnout upon reaching gross profit targets by Dec. 31. Social Reality will maintain a 31% ownership in SRAXmd, representing $10 million in preferred shares in the new entity.

* Zillow Group Inc. struck a definitive agreement to acquire Overland Park, Kan.-based Mortgage Lenders of America LLC. The transaction, is expected to close in the fourth quarter, subject to customary closing conditions, including mortgage regulatory approvals. Zillow said Aug. 6 that the acquisition will help the company streamline and shorten the home-buying process for consumers who opt to buy homes through its service Zillow Offers. Under the deal, Mortgage Lenders of America will continue offering mortgages to consumers and participating in Zillow's mortgage marketplace. The acquisition will also allow Zillow to develop new tools and partnership opportunities, such as tie-ups with real estate brokers with existing in-house mortgage operations or mortgage affiliates.