Hearst making offer for station group shares

Company's $4 price a fraction of earlier, rejected bid

Two years after offering $23.50 a share for the portion of Hearst-Argyle Television it doesn't already own, Hearst Corp. said Wednesday that it will offer $4 apiece for those same shares.

While a fraction of Hearst Corp.'s previous bid, the new offer is still a 91% premium on Tuesday's closing price for Hearst-Argyle shares. The shares rallied 93% on Wednesday to $4.03, suggesting that some on Wall Street think the offer could be sweetened.

Privately held Hearst, whose holdings include the Houston Chronicle and the San Francisco Chronicle, owns about 82% of the equity and general voting power of Hearst-Argyle, which owns 29 TV stations.

Hearst's 2007 offer of $600 million for the outstanding Hearst-Argyle shares was rejected by the latter's board and shareholders.

The new offer officially should come by mid-April, Hearst said.