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Pacers owner teams with Smulyan to buy Emmis stock

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Herb Simon, owner of the Indiana Pacers and co-founder of Simon Property Group Inc., has formed a partnership with Jeff Smulyan to purchase as much as 4 percent of Emmis Communications Corp. stock.

A regulatory filing late Friday afternoon says Smulyan's and Simon's company, HSJS LLC, had acquired 585,980 Class A shares before implementing a purchase plan late in the week to buy up to an additional 1 million shares at prices not greater than $2 apiece. After instituting that plan with the investment firm Stifel Nicolaus & Co., HSJS bought 98,100 shares at an average price of $1.48, bringing its holdings to 684,080 shares. Those holdings are worth about $1.02 million.

Smulyan is Emmis' CEO and its controling shareholder. But this is the first time Securities and Exchange Commission records list Simon acquiring Emmis stock.

Simon could not be reached, but Smulyan said the purchases reflect their shared confidence in the future of the company.

“We’re doing something a little different,” he said. “We’ve known each other for many, many years.”

Indianapolis-based Emmis in recent years has flirted with having its stock delisted from the NASDAQ stock exchange because it has struggled to maintain a share price above $1. Earlier this month, Emmis managed to avoid the latest delisting threat when its stock closed above $1 for 10 consecutive trading days.

The stock surged above $1 in late April after the company reached a radio station deal and related financing agreement that will bring the company $92.5 million in capital it plans to use to pay down debt.

Several Emmis officers have purchased company stock recently, including Gregory Loewen, chief strategy officer and president of its publishing division, who bought 72,011 shares for $1.35 each. Patrick Walsh, chief financial officer, bought 50,255 shares for $1.30 each and Richard Cummings, president of Emmis Radio Programming, nabbed 35,000 shares for $1.35 each.
 

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