NEW YORK, April 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Standard General L.P., the largest equity holder of TEGNA Inc. ("TEGNA" or the "Company") (NYSE: TGNA), issued the following statement regarding the preliminary voting results of TEGNA's 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, held virtually today:
Standard General would like to thank our fellow shareholders for your engagement over these past few weeks. Regardless of the card you voted, we appreciate our dialogue with you during this process, and we very much hope that will continue. It goes without saying that we always respect the will of all shareholders.
We invested in TEGNA because of our fundamental conviction that TEGNA should be the premier pure-play local affiliate TV broadcasting company. We chose to become more actively involved after management failed to acknowledge reports of M&A interest. Signs of entrenchment and a lack of transparency are behaviors that will always raise concerns with Standard General.
Inside or outside the Boardroom, we are confident that we have already made important contributions benefitting our fellow shareholders by challenging management's narrative about the Company's performance and seeking greater transparency about TEGNA's numbers, acquisition metrics, and engagement with third parties. It may very well be the case that the pressure from our election contest is the reason investors learned of the broad interest of third parties in an acquisition of TEGNA at a premium valuation, and the reason that TEGNA finally agreed to engage with interested parties in early 2020.
At this moment, however, the COVID-19 pandemic demands that we all unite to urge TEGNA to put its focus on managing through this crisis and emerging from it with renewed strength and purpose. We continue to believe that there are many areas for improvement at TEGNA and are hopeful that, away from the heat of a proxy contest, the Board and management will consider many of the issues we have raised. At the appropriate time, we look forward to management providing clarity around its plan to restore and grow shareholder value, and we remind the Company that it has not held a regular Analyst Day for investors since the middle of 2017. We are focused on long-term value creation, and we would welcome management providing shareholders with a compelling plan to deliver standalone value as an alternative to whatever outside strategic interest may return in the future.
A company's success depends on its people. Standard General appreciates the work of TEGNA's station staffers: the reporters, producers, operations teams, and account representatives who keep the business running. The work TEGNA's people do on the front lines to provide reliable news to TEGNA's communities has never been more important. This shareholder is grateful for your efforts.
As we have said before, we are very concerned that the Company is asking employees to take unpaid furloughs. While we commend management for taking pay cuts of their own, we note that our public peers have not asked their frontline staff to bear such burdens. We have heard the anecdotes of trusted anchors off-the-air during May sweeps and a chief meteorologist missing on-air amidst tornado season. We assure you that, as the Company's largest shareholder, Standard General will continue to vigilantly monitor how TEGNA compensates its local staff and upper management and hold the Company accountable.
In this election contest, we proposed a highly qualified and diverse slate consisting mostly of women that would have resulted in TEGNA joining the mere 1% of US listed companies with a majority woman board, and one that would have doubled the number of ethnic minorities from two of twelve to four. This slate reflected Standard General's deeply held values in favor of enhancing diversity while improving the Board's relevant experience by nominating professionals who averaged over 20 years of local affiliate broadcasting experience. We will continue to challenge TEGNA to strengthen its Board by increasing diversity and adding critical local affiliate broadcasting expertise.
Our fundamental belief in TEGNA remains: that TEGNA should be the premier pure-play local affiliate broadcasting company, for the benefit of all stakeholders: its staff, who are the Company's heart and soul, the local communities that depend on TEGNA for vital and trusted news, and all of us shareholders. We want TEGNA to succeed, and we will continue to work to make TEGNA the best company in local TV affiliate broadcasting.
About Standard General
Standard General was founded in 2007 and primarily manages capital for public and private pension funds, endowments, foundations, and high net-worth individuals. Standard General's extensive experience in local television broadcasting includes investments in: Media General, a former publicly-traded broadcasting company now part of Nexstar Media Group; Standard Media Group, an innovative and diverse media company committed to high-quality local news; and MediaCo Holding, a holding company that invests in local broadcast media and radio stations.
Media General was a publicly-traded broadcaster which, like TEGNA, had a long tradition in print media, and had divested those assets to pursue a pure-play broadcasting strategy. As a substantial shareholder with a single Standard General principal on the Board, we worked constructively with the management team and directors to help guide Media General through a merger with publicly-traded LIN Media LLC that more than doubled its station portfolio.
Following that merger, we helped oversee substantial increases in cash flow through a series of operational improvement initiatives and strategic acquisitions before ultimately selling the combined company to Nexstar Media Group in transaction valued at approx. $5 billion. The sale price represented a multiple of 11.2X EBITDA and an implied return of 179% during our 3.6 years of ownership.
Bruce Goldfarb / Jason Alexander / Pat McHugh
SOURCE Standard General L.P.