Lincoln set to pull the trigger


Despite a huge price reduction from original expectations, RBR sources confirmed last Friday that Lincoln Financial Group is set to swallow hard and exit the broadcasting business for a mere 1.2 billion bucks. The company releases its Q3 results after the closing bell tomorrow and conducts its conference call with analysts on Wednesday, Halloween, so the sale announcements could come by then.

As first reported by Reuters, Raycom appears to have the inside track to buy the Lincoln Financial Media TV group for around a half billion. The radio group will likely have multiple buyers for a total of 650 million, and then there’s another 50 million for the sports syndication business. Yep, that’s a total of 1.2 billion for assets that were expected to bring around 1.5 billion when they were put on the market last spring (5/1/07 RBR #85).

As we reported last week, bidders for the radio properties included Joel Hollander, Randy Michaels, Entercom and Greater Media. That list is now said to also include Cumulus and Bonneville International. Which markets to whom? We wait to find out.

RBR/TVBR observation: We thought that the people who run big insurance companies are supposed to be smart money guys. Oh, well. One person involved in the bidding noted that in the current credit environment, 1.2 billion works out to more than what 1.5 billion was back in the spring. OK, that may be true for the buyer – but not for the seller.