peHUB has learned that one of the two remaining bidders is Greenspun Corp., which owns Modern Luxury’s arch rival Niche Media. The identity of the other buyer is unclear although one source said the party is “not in media and not in private equity.”
Greenspun was rumored to be joining forces with private equity firm Irving Place Capital, whose CEO John Howard was once Niche Media investor. Howard said Monday there is “no such thing happening with IPC.”
Modern Luxury has nearly 30 publications in 13 major markets including Angeleno, Manhattan and Interiors. Bids were believed to be in the mid-to-upper $20 millions.
Greenspun is widely expected to win the auction. “Greenspun should be the buyer who will and can pay the most, because they own Niche Publications and combining it with Modern Luxury should be a good match,” one banker says.
Greenspun Corp., of Henderson, N.V., manages the assets of the Greenspun family. Greenspun Media Group owns various media holdings including the daily newspaper Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Magazine (LVM), as well as a stake in the Tribune Co. In 2006, Greenspun acquired Niche Media, which publishes regional magazines — like Gotham, Hamptons and Ocean Drive—that directly compete against Modern Luxury.
Michael Kong, the former CEO of Modern Luxury, is not expected to be involved. Kong, who had owned 40% of Modern Luxury, has been trying to mount his own bid for the magazine. He was ousted after the magazine defaulted on $120 million in debt. Modern Luxury is currently being controlled by its lenders, GE Business Financial Services and NewStar Financial.
Officials for Newstar declined comment. Neither Greenspun nor Niche could be reached for comment.