It is sunny skies for The Weather Channel. On July 6, NBC Universal Inc. and private equity shops Blackstone Group LP and Bain Capital LLC announced they were acquiring the cable TV channel from Landmark Communications Inc. for roughly $3.5 billion. The deal began last December, when Norfolk, Va.-based Landmark hired J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. to help it find buyers for The Weather Channel and tapped Lehman Brothers Inc. to find takers for its other assets, including The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.
J.P. Morgan landed the work through a bake-off, with Anwar Zakkour, the global head of media M&A, vice chairman Jimmy Lee and executive director Marco Caggiano at the helm. Gregory Dalvito is taking the lead for Lehman Brothers on Landmark's asset review.
NBC Universal was advised by Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., which pitched the deal to NBC chief Jeff Zucker. Deutsche's team includes Charles Denison, Jean Manas, Harlan Wakoff and Fehmi Zeko. Allen & Co.'s Enrique Senior and Credit Suisse Group's John Trousdale, Eric Federman and Mark Filipski also advised the buyers.
Landmark used a quartet of law firms, including longtime outside general counsel Willcox & Savage PC in Norfolk, where Thomas Inglima led the deal. For tax expertise the seller turned to Kilpatrick Stockton LLP's W. Stanley Blackburn and Justin Heineman and Venable LLP's Brian O'Connor.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP's David Fox and a team including Daniel Dusek, Kenneth Wolff and Katherine Bristor (tax) helped structure the deal for Landmark. J.P. Morgan's Zakkour recommended the firm to Landmark. Zakkour and Fox worked opposite each other on deals such as Apollo Management LP's $9 billion take-private of Realogy Corp. in 2007. When Zakkour co-headed M&A at Citigroup Inc., they also worked side by side for Cendant Corp. on its acquisition of travel site eBookers plc in 2004.
For legal advice the buyers turned to longtime outside counsels. Ropes & Gray LLP's R. Newcomb Stillwell and Al Rose -- the Bain relationship partners -- led a team including Jay Kim, Chris Leich, Jonathan Zorn, Loretta Richard and Edward Black. Rose and Stillwell have worked on a number of deals for Blackstone and Bain including their $6 billion buyout of Michaels Stores Inc. in 2006.
NBC Universal used Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP's Howard Chatzinoff, Scott Parel and Jay Tabor.
Blackstone's Michael Chae -- who worked with Ropes & Gray on the Michaels investment -- and managing director Peter Wallace, grandson of Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes" fame, and Bain's Ian Loring, Steve Zide and Steve Pagliuca also worked on the deal.
Landmark's in-house dealmakers include Decker Anstrom, president and COO, and general counsel Guy Friddell III. "Guy was the one quarterbacking the deals," says Richard Berry III, Landmark's vice chairman.