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Sinclair lenders not game for lucrative sports deal

Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s $9.6 billion deal to acquire 21 regional sports channels may be beloved by stockholders — but lenders are less enthused, The Post has learned.

Since winning the auction to acquire the 21 regional sports networks, or RSNs, from Disney, Sinclair has had a tough time finding a lender to replace a $1.025 billion bridge loan it secured from JPMorgan, sources with direct knowledge of the situation said.

Sinclair wants a loan with less onerous terms than the one it has with JPMorgan, but lenders are balking at the company’s conditions, the sources said.

“The main sticking point” is that Sinclair wants the new loan to be 100 percent secured by the RSNs, rather than its TV stations, one source said.

“The problem is the numbers are declining,” the source said of the RSNs, which bring in $1.5 billion in adjusted earnings.

“All the distributor deals come up next year,” the source said, speaking of the cable companies that carry the RSNs. “This is not a hot asset.”

Disney sold the RSNs, which broadcast professional baseball, basketball and hockey games from Los Angeles to Detroit, to gain regulatory approval for its $71 billion merger with Twenty-First Century Fox.

Shareholders sent the conservative broadcast network’s stock up 35 percent after Sinclair told shareholders the purchase will more than double its revenue and triple its operating income.

JPMorgan lent Sinclair $1.025 billion at a rate that is a little over 10 percent. That loan, which rises over time, is guaranteed by both Sinclair and the RSNs, according to regulatory filings.

Sinclair did not return requests for comment.

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