Buyout shop GTCR has partnered with former Tribune Co. CEO Randy Michaels to buy Merlin Media LLC, the owner of several radio station properties, from Emmis Communications. Emmis will retain a significant stake in the venture, the firm said. GTCR’s investment will be made out of GTCR Fund X, a private equity fund with $3.25 billion of committed capital. Specific terms of the deal were not released. Latham & Watkins LLP served as legal counsel and PriceWaterhouseCoopers served as accounting advisor to GTCR.
GTCR, a leading private equity firm, today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to partner with Emmis Communications Corporation (Nasdaq: EMMS) and Randy Michaels to acquire Merlin Media LLC (“Merlin Media”) a company which owns and operates media assets.
Merlin Media has signed definitive documentation with Emmis to acquire the assets of WKQX-FM (101.1 MHz, Chicago, IL), WLUP-FM (97.9 MHz, Chicago, IL) and WRXP-FM (101.9 MHz, New York, NY). Closing of this transaction is pending regulatory approvals.
“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to partner with Emmis and Randy,” said Philip A. Canfield, Principal at GTCR. “Emmis’ CEO, Jeff Smulyan, and Randy Michaels are both proven veterans of the media industry and we look forward to working with them to provide valuable media content to Merlin Media’s future consumers.”
“We believe this transaction will create significant value for our shareholders,” noted Jeff Smulyan, Chairman & CEO of Emmis. “As a minority holder in Merlin Media, we look forward to continuing to provide innovative programming to our audiences in Chicago and New York.”
Latham & Watkins LLP served as legal counsel and PriceWaterhouseCoopers served as accounting advisor to GTCR. GTCR’s investment in Merlin Media will be made from GTCR Fund X, a private equity fund with $3.25 billion of committed capital.
Founded in 1980, GTCR is a leading private equity firm focused on investing in growth companies in the Financial Services & Technology, Healthcare and Information Services & Technology industries. The Chicago-based firm pioneered the “Leaders Strategy” — finding and partnering with world-class leaders as the critical first step in identifying, acquiring and building market-leading companies through acquisitions and organic growth. Since its inception, GTCR has invested more than $8.5 billion in over 200 companies. For more information, please visit www.gtcr.com.
About Emmis Communications (NasdaqGS: EMMS)
Emmis Communications Corporation is a diversified media company, principally focused on radio broadcasting. Emmis operates the 8th largest publicly traded radio portfolio in the United States based on total listeners. As of February 28, 2011, Emmis owns and operates seven FM radio stations serving the nation’s top three markets – New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, with one of Emmis’ FM radio stations in Los Angeles operated pursuant to a Local Marketing Agreement whereby a third party provides the programming for the station and sells all advertising within that programming. Additionally, Emmis owns and operates fourteen FM and two AM radio stations with strong positions in St. Louis, Austin (Emmis has a 50.1% controlling interest in Emmis’ radio stations located there), Indianapolis and Terre Haute, IN.