Bids were due this week for the potential sale of the Lincoln Financial Media stations. There was, indeed, lots of interest in the portfolio of primo properties, both radio and television – the former Jefferson-Pilot Communications. The real question, though, given the current credit market, is whether the bidding will be strong enough for Lincoln Financial Group, primarily an insurance company, to exit broadcasting. Back when this process began, well before the credit crunch, we speculated that the properties could bring around 1.5 billion (5/1/07 RBR #85). Will they get anything close to that in the current market? Or will the company say "no thanks" and hold onto the radio and TV stations for a few more years?
RBR observation: As we expected, Raycom apparently bid for the Southeast-focused TV group and Randy Michaels’ Local TV LLC (and twin-to-be Local Radio) bid for the whole kit-and-kaboodle. We hear that Entercom and Greater Media bid on the radio package, as did former CBS Radio CEO Joel Hollander with his new private equity backers. There were other bidders as well, we understand. Despite all of the rumors about Cox Radio coveting the radio properties and being the best fit, it is not clear whether the company made a bid. Will there be a winner? With a very low tax basis, Lincoln faces a big tax bite and may pass if the after-tax take doesn’t do much for its balance sheet.