Hedge fund: No newsroom layoffs at Tegna stations for two years

Standard General, the potential buyer of TV-12 and TV-25, addresses several concerns.

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  • | 12:00 a.m. January 12, 2023
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Tegna’s station group includes NBC network affiliate WTLV TV-12 and ABC affiliate WJXX TV-25.
Tegna’s station group includes NBC network affiliate WTLV TV-12 and ABC affiliate WJXX TV-25.
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A hedge fund planning to buy Tegna Inc. pledged to regulators it will not lay off any newsroom staff at the company’s 64 television stations, including two in Jacksonville, for at least two years.

Standard General L.P. also tried to alleviate concerns about its relationship with the owner of Cox Media Group, operator of two other Jacksonville stations, in a Dec. 23 letter to the Federal Communications Commission.

Funds managed by Apollo Global Management own a majority of Cox Media and Apollo is helping Standard General fund its proposed $8.6 billion buyout of Tegna.

Tegna’s station group includes Jacksonville NBC network affiliate WTLV TV-12 and ABC affiliate WJXX TV-25.

Cox Media operates Fox affiliate WFOX TV-30 and CBS affiliate WJAX TV-47 and eight other stations.

Several parties have filed objections with the FCC about the deal, including concerns that Apollo would end up connected to four of Jacksonville’s six commercial television stations.

Graham Media Group Inc., owner of Jacksonville independent station WJXT TV-4 and CW affiliate WCWJ TV-17, filed comments in June expressing concern about the deal’s impact on competition in the Jacksonville market.

Standard General responded by saying Apollo is only a funding source for the deal and would not have an ownership interest in the stations owned by Tegna.

Standard General’s Dec. 23 letter said there would be no coordination with Cox Media stations after its buyout of Tegna.

“As Standard General has stated on the record in this proceeding, it has not considered and will not following the transactions enter into any agreements with Apollo, CMG or their respective affiliates related to Tegna broadcast stations other than short-term transition services agreements needed to avoid disruption of service to the public,” the letter said.

A separate letter sent Dec. 22 sought to alleviate other concerns about the buyout’s impact on local news coverage.

“To further remove any doubt about station news staffing matters, Standard General commits that it will not conduct any journalism or newsroom staffing layoffs or similar reductions at the stations for a minimum of two years following the transactions,” it said.

Standard General said in that letter that implementation of its post-buyout plans would increase newsroom staff, but it gave no details.

Before sending the letters, Standard General issued a statement saying it sees a “bright future” for Tegna under its ownership.

“We look forward to continue working collaboratively with regulators to complete their review of the proposed transaction and proceed to closing,” it said.

Treace revenue beats forecast

Treace Medical Concepts Inc.’s 2022 revenue was higher than it projected just two months ago.

The Ponte Vedra Beach-based company, which markets a surgical procedure to treat bunions, said Jan. 9 its revenue for the year was between $141.2 million and $141.7 million, 50% higher than 2021.

Treace said in November it expected full-year revenue of $135 million to $138 million.

The company said its results benefited from investments into its direct sales channel, research and development, and direct-to-consumer programs.

As Treace grows, it moved in July into a 125,000-square-foot headquarters building at the Park Place One building at Nocatee.

The company, which started in 2014, has about 350 employees, including 125 in the headquarters.

Treace was one of just two companies headquartered in the Jacksonville area, along with Rayonier Advanced Materials Inc., to register a higher stock price in 2022’s depressed market with a 23% gain to $22.99. The stock was priced at $17 in its April 2021 initial public offering.

Morgan Stanley analyst Drew Ranieri, who maintained an “overweight” rating on the stock, said trends are positive for the company. He has a $28 price target for the stock.

“Treace Medical has executed well in 2022 against a challenging backdrop, and the company enters 2023 with a growing active surgeon base, blended average sales price lift as surgeons adopt more products per procedure, a steady cadence of new product introductions, and an increasingly productive direct sales force,” Ranieri said in a research note.

J&J seeks more vision care deals

Johnson & Johnson, which began expanding its Jacksonville-based vision care business with acquisitions six years ago, is looking for more eye care deals.

According to a Reuters news service story, CEO Joaquin Duato told the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference on Jan. 9 the company seeks opportunities to serve unmet medical needs in areas including eye care and surgical robots.

Johnson & Johnson has been making contact lenses in Jacksonville under the Acuvue brand for more than 40 years. In 2017, it began to expand the vision care business beyond contact lenses to eye surgery products by acquiring Abbott Medical Optics.

Contact lenses still account for a majority of the vision care business, with $2.7 billion of the company’s $3.7 billion in vision care sales in the first nine months of 2022.



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