Friday, May 6, 2011

Atlantic City bankruptcy sale marks improved trading marketplace

As you may have seen reported in the trade press this morning, we just concluded the chapter 11 bankruptcy sale of Atlantic Broadcasting’s five radio stations in Atlantic City, NJ. This was a fascinating transaction from the standpoint of the speed to completion as well as the results. And I think that it speaks to the increasing health (and improving pricing) of the station trading marketplace.

After our engagement was approved by the bankruptcy court in mid-January, we opened our online data room in early February with instructions from our client to move the transaction along swiftly. Since this was a bankruptcy sale, it was publicily known (and widely followed in the trades). Over the ensuing weeks, we generated a lot of interest in the properties; ultimately we had around 40 signed non-disclosure agreements. Each of those parties received access to the data room.

A “stalking horse” buyer was selected by our client with a proposed purchase price of $3 million. If no competing bids had been received, the stalking horse would have purchased the properties for that amount. If they were over-bid (as happened), they proposed to receive a break-up fee (which the judge approved yesterday). Ultimately, our client qualified five bidders to participate in an auction. The auction took place on Wednesday.

Bidding at the auction was robust, and in the end, a local group prevailed (Longport Media, headed by attorney George Miller). The ultimate price was $4.2 million. Yesterday, the sale was approved by the bankruptcy court in Camden, NJ.

Bottom line: we were able to complete the sale from start to finish in roughly 90 days. Pricing was in line with our predictions and everyone involved in the process was pleased. The stations will go to new local ownership and should prosper. I do not think that these results could have been achieved a year ago; things have definitely improved in the marketplace.

The sale is subject to FCC approval. Congratulations to my partner Tom McKinley for a job well done.

Media Services Group

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