Struggling Emmis faces NASDAQ delisting again

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For the third time in two years, Emmis Communications Corp. is in danger of having its stock delisted from the NASDAQ exchange.

NASDAQ served notice to the Indianapolis-based media company on Wednesday that its stock had closed below the exchange’s minimum $1-per-share requirement for 30 straight business days.  

Emmis shares will have to rise to or above the $1 minimum for at least 10 consecutive business days between now and Feb. 27 to stay in compliance.

Shares in Emmis fell below $1 in mid-July and closed Thursday at 66 cents each, their lowest closing price since last December.

The company was previously warned about possible delistings in November 2010 and in October 2009, but its stock rebounded both times to escape danger.

Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan said the latest delisting warning was anticipated, but he expects the $120 million sale of three radio stations and the retirement of a large portion of company debt to lift the stock above $1 again.

The company announced Friday that it had completed the sale of Chicago stations WLUP-FM 97.9 and WKQX-FM 101.1, and New York station WRXP-FM 101.9 to Merlin Media LLC.

Profit from the sale was used to repay about 38 percent of the company’s debt load, Smulyan said.

"The notice from NASDAQ was not a surprise, but the timing is ironic coming the very day before we closed the Merlin transaction and repaid approximately $120 million of our debt,” Smulyan said in a prepared statement. “We are optimistic that the performance of our businesses and our continued efforts to rationalize our balance sheet will enable us to achieve compliance with the minimum bid price rule before Feb. 27.”

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