There’s no love lost between Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder and Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels, as most know. So it’s no big surprise that the claim that Merlin Media’s four stations may be for sale would have different takes. Feder reports that private equity firm GTCR, which backed Michaels’ Merlin venture, has decided to sell and is “actively seeking buyers” for the stations. Moelis and Company handling the sale.
The stations include Alternative WRXP-FM New York; Talk WWIQ-FM Philadelphia, Adult Hits WIQI-FM Chicago and Classic Rocker WLUP-FM Chicago.
“While Michaels is still involved with Merlin Media, day-to-day business is being run by chief financial officer Jerry Kersting. “Everything is in kind of a holding pattern to try to show cash flow so they can get the most out of it,” one insider said.”
GTCR funded $153 million worth of deals to give Merlin its four stations in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. That’s the major portion of the cash underpinning Merlin. But Michaels is, of course, not without a station portfolio of his own.
Michaels gave RBR-TVBR a different take. Simply put: “Merlin is not for sale.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Cash flow is a big issue and can make all the difference. If Merlin can get the former all-news stations in NYC and Chicago back in the black with a return to music formats, they may be more appealing for a sale. Then again, they may be so appealing that they end up keeping them in-house. Nonetheless, all stations are for sale at the right price and these are very desirable sticks.