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Bruce Sherman and Hearst-Argyle

By Gary Jacobson

August 27, 2007 at 7:14am

Florida investor Bruce Sherman finds himself in the midst of another media company buyout. This time it’s Hearst-Argyle Television, which received an offer from majority shareholder Hearst Corporation.

Hearst, a privately held publisher of newspapers, magazines and Internet properties, already owns more than 73 percent of the broadcaster’s shares. It is offering $600 million for the remainder.

Sherman, who runs Private Capital Management, instigated the eventual sale last year of newspaper publisher Knight Ridder to McClatchy. This time, he appears to be more passive, but there is a much bigger appetite for the target company stock he controls.

Hearst said it would make a tender offer of $23.50 a share for Hearst-Argyle, but investors bid the price well past $25 at the market close Friday, indicating other bids are expected.

Private Capital Management owns 8.4 million shares of Hearst-Argyle, according to the company’s April proxy statement. That equals about one-third of the shares not already held by Hearst Corporation.

Why so much interest in Hearst-Argyle, which owns network affiliated TV stations that reach about 18 percent of the nation?

Some analysts expect the 2008 election campaign to generate record ad revenue to television stations of up to $3 billion, according to Reuters.

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