Report: Blackstone leads Weather Channel bids

Blackstone and media conglomerate NBC Universal reportedly comprise one of two leading bidding groups for the 24-hour cable channel, which is expected to be sold for several billion dollars.

The Blackstone Group may soon add meteorologists to its portfolio.

The private equity firm and media conglomerate NBC Universal are together one of two leading bidders in an auction for the Weather Channel, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

A Blackstone spokesman declined comment.

Time Warner is reported as the other “leading contender” for the 24-hour weather channel.

In January, Atlanta-based parent company Landmark Communications hired JPMorgan and Lehman Brothers to help it explore strategic alternatives and “the possible sale of the company's businesses”, the company said at the time.

Weather Channel:
forecasting returns

The company’s divisions include the Weather Channel, comprised of television networks, and affiliated products for radio, newspapers, digital cable services and interactive television. Its interactive division includes website weather.com and products for broadband and wireless platforms, while its Weather Services International subsidiary provides business-to-business weather services, particularly for the media, aviation, marine and energy sectors.

A second round of bids for the Weather Channel is due today, with offers expected to range between $3 billion (€1.9 billion) and $4 billion, the Journal reported.

Both Time Warner and NBC Universal have existing platforms which would have synergies with The Weather Channel.

Publicly traded Blackstone’s media and publishing portfolio companies include radio station operator Cumulus Media Partners, the result of a $1.2 billion deal in May 2006; Freedom Communications, a publisher of community newspapers and TV broadcaster purchased for $2 billion in May 2004; and educational publishing company Houghton Mifflin, purchased for $1.6 billion in December 2002.