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Originally published January 3, 2011 at 6:45 AM | Page modified January 4, 2011 at 10:58 AM

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Canadian firm bids $211M for Fisher Communications

A Canadian real-estate company says Seattle-based broadcaster Fisher Communications, owner of KOMO-TV, has rejected a $211 million acquisition offer.

Fisher Communications

History: Founded in 1910; first entered broadcasting in 1926.

Business: Owns 13 full-power TV stations; has 10 owned or managed radio stations. Seattle and Portland are its two largest TV markets. Also owns Fisher Plaza, a high-tech commercial building and data center near Seattle Center.

Employees: 837 full time as of December 2009.

Revenues: $118.4 million, up 25 percent, for the nine months ended Sept. 30.

Net income: $1.5 million for the nine months ended Sept. 30, compared with a loss of $10.4 million in the same period of 2009.

Source: Company reports

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NEW YORK —

A Canadian real-estate company said Monday it has offered about $211 million for Seattle-based Fisher Communications but that its bid had been rejected.

Fisher, which owns KOMO-TV and three radio stations in Seattle, saw its stock jump sharply Monday on the news.

Huntingdon Real Estate Investment Trust, a Canadian company that leases property, said Monday it is offering $23.99 a share for Fisher with a combination of cash and stock.

That's an 18 percent premium over Fisher's closing stock price Dec. 6, the day the offer was made, Fisher said in a statement. That would value the regional TV- and radio-station owner at about $211 million, given the number of shares Fisher had outstanding Nov. 1.

Fisher, which operates a group of 28 broadcast stations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the offer Monday.

Its Seattle radio stations are KOMO, KVI and KPLZ.

All but one of Fisher's board members concluded the proposal is not in the best interest of shareholders, Fisher said in its statement.

Board member David Lorber, also a member of Huntingdon's board of trustees, has been excused from all Fisher board deliberations and reports related to the offer, the statement added.

In a letter to Fisher's board, Huntingdon CEO Zachary George criticized the company's directors for shooting down the bid only four days after it was made.

"We ask that you reconsider your hasty decision to reject our proposal," he said.

News of the bid pushed Fisher stock up $1.65, or 7.6 percent, to $23.45 Monday. In after-hours trading, it rose $1.55 more, or 6.6 percent, to $25.

Fisher, founded in 1910, used to be a small conglomerate known as Fisher Companies. It entered the broadcasting business in 1926 and also owned flour mills, a real-estate division and a major chunk of Seattle-based insurer Safeco.

Fisher sold its flour and food businesses in 2001, and cashed out the Safeco stake in 2008 for $104 million.

Though it shed most of the real estate, it still owns Fisher Plaza, a high-tech communications and office project near Seattle Center.

Fisher's largest shareholder, by far, is Gamco Funds and other entities affiliated with investor Mario Gabelli, which owned 28.6 percent of 8.8 million shares, according to an August regulatory filing.

George D. Fisher, of Des Moines, owns 5.1 percent, and New York-based investment firm TowerView owns 8.9 percent, according to the company's proxy statement in April.

Background information about Fisher reported by Seattle Times staff.

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