Emmis shares jump on $60M sale of St. Louis stations

Shares in Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications Corp. have been rising after the media company announced it was fetching $60 million from the sales of its St. Louis radio stations.

Emmis on Friday said it had a definitive agreement to sell rock and roll station KSHE-FM 94.7 and alternative station KPNT-FM 105.7 to Hubbard Radio LLC for $45 million, and news-talk station KFTK-FM 97.1 and top 40 station KNOU-FM 96.3 to Entercom Communications Corp. for $15 million.

Emmis shares climbed to $4 each Monday morning, up more than 20 percent from their opening price on Friday.

The company said in late January that it had had agreements in principle to sell the stations, but it did not disclose the financial terms at the time. The transactions, which are subject to federal regulatory approval, are expected to close this spring.

Emmis said net proceed from the sales will be used to repay term loans.

Emmis has whittled down considerable debt in recent years by selling off stations, including an $82.75 million sale of Los Angeles urban station KPWR-FM “Power 106” to Meruelo Group in 2017, and the $5.2 million sale of its Terre Haute radio cluster to three separate buyers.

The company also has sold off a majority of its publishing holdings in the past five quarters, leaving it with Indianapolis Monthly as its only magazine.
If both deals close, Emmis would be left with 14 radio stations overall, with four in Indianapolis, four in New York City, and six in Austin, Texas. The company owned 23 radio stations less than seven years ago.

Entercom, a publicly traded company based in Pennsylvania, is the second largest radio company in the United States, owning 235 radio stations across 48 markets. It currently owns three stations in St. Louis.

St. Paul, Minnesota-based Hubbard Radio, a subsidiary of Hubbard Broadcasting, owns 46 stations in 11 markets, including three in St. Louis.

"The St. Louis team has been an integral part of our Emmis family since 1984,” Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan said in written remarks. “We love our people in St. Louis, and the team's performance has been nothing short of remarkable. Hubbard and Entercom are both tremendous radio operators and they are adding great people and great brands to their St. Louis clusters."

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