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Emmis Exploring Sale of Stations

May 10, 2005  •  Post A Comment

In a move designed to jump-start its flagging stock price, Emmis Communications said Tuesday it is exploring the sale of its 16 television stations. The move could be a step toward reviving the TV station mergers-and-acquisitions market.

The Indianapolis-based company said it hired The Blackstone Group as its financial adviser to evaluate strategic alternatives for its television assets. Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Smulyan said during a conference call Tuesday that he is open to all options, including a possible buyout by the management of the TV station operation.

The news sent Emmis shares soaring Tuesday morning. By midday Emmis’s stock was up 20 percent, or more than $3 per share, to trade at more than $18.50, after trending downward for the past six months.

A possible sale of the TV assets comes as the company launches a stock buyback program to repurchase up to 20.25 million shares.

Both strategies are designed to jump-start Emmis’ stock price, which has languished for quite a while.

Mr. Smulyan said the challenges facing station groups these days forced the company to rethink its commitment to the business.

“We hope we can find our group a home that will allow them to continue and grow,” he said during the conference call. “It’s a difficult decision, but it’s a right decision, and it sets us on a course that gives us the best opportunity to go forward in the future.”