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Gannett to buy TV station owner Belo for $1.5B

McLEAN, Va. — Gannett Co. has a deal to buy Dallas-based TV station owner Belo Corp. for about $1.5 billion.

Gannett will pay $13.75 per share, a 28 percent premium. Gannett, the largest US newspaper publisher, also will assume $715 million in debt. Gannett owns USA Today and other newspapers, as well as television stations.

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Chief executive Gracia Martore called the acquisition an ‘‘important step’’ in diversification and said it will significantly improve the company’s financial strength.

The acquisition will make Gannett, of McLean, Va., one of the largest owners of major network affiliates, reaching nearly one-third of US households. It nearly doubles Gannett’s portfolio from 23 to 43 stations and gives it 21 stations in the country’s top 25 television markets.

Gannett expects the deal to boost adjusted earnings by 50 cents per share within 12 months and generate $175 million in annual cost savings within three years. The deal, which has been approved by the boards of both companies, is expected to close by the end of 2013. It still needs FCC and Belo shareholder approvals.

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