Rather than selling the whole CBS Radio division in one fell swoop, experts tell us they believe it’s more likely certain radio groups would buy a CBS cluster or specific stations to fill out their own cluster and stay within the FCC’s ownership limits.
Brokers shared a few likely candidates with RBR+TVBR.
When asked what comes next, one broker tells us CBS will probably hire an investment banking house, say a Morgan Stanley or a Goldman Sachs or Wells Fargo, to market its stations to potential buyers.
Don’t look for iHeart or Cumulus to be one of those; iHeart has a $20 billion debt issue and is fighting off creditors, we’ve reported. As for Cumulus, new President/CEO Mary Berner’s “not going to buy CBS Radio,” said one expert, adding that Crestview Partners, which holds 33.54% of the Cumulus portfolio… “probably has the money but not the appetite” to buy.
The most often cited radio groups that may have an interested in picking up some of the CBS stations are Hubbard, Entercom, Beasley and Greater Media. Even Alpha Media, which recently closed on Dean Goodman’s Digity stations, “but they could do it,” predicted one broker.
One expert noted an Entercom deal for a CBS station in Atlanta makes sense to stay within the ownership limits; so too does deals for Hubbard in St. Louis, Seattle, Kansas City or Pittsburgh.
Though CBS Chair/CEO Les Moonves said Tuesday the company is exploring its options for the Radio division, not explicitly calling it a sale, Bob Heymann of the Chicago office of Media Services Group calls that code for “bring us offers.”
He and others we spoke to predict the process could stretch out for a year or more for each cluster.
CBS Radio owns 117 stations in 26 markets. The largest markets are: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miani, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis and Washington, DC.