Smulyan On Taking Emmis Private: Not Now, But "Never Say Never"
October 16, 2006 at 7:20 PM (PT)
In a Q&A on the EMMIS website, Chairman/CEO JEFF SMULYAN parries a question about whether he will take another run at taking the company private by saying "We're comfortable with our direction right now as a public company. I will never say never about any business decision, but this is where we are."
SMULYAN adds that "in the coming year, we'll continue to focus on investors. Since we announced our intent to sell the TV division [last year], EMMIS has paid down over $1 billion in debt, and our 2005 Dutch auction tender offer, along with the proposed $4 dividend, represents $550 million we've put back into shareholders' pockets. And while we return that capital to investors, we're focused on maintaining a balance sheet that gives us the flexibility to make strategic investments when we see them."
Noting that the third quarter will reflect the change in morning shows at WKQX (Q101)/CHICAGO and the format flip to MOVIN in LOS ANGELES, SMULYAN says that from last year to now "the biggest thing we're seeing now is that consumption has held. The RAEL study showed that in spite of all the dire predictions about terrestrial radio, people still have an affinity for the product. We've been battered by the satellite buzz, and many advertisers have bought into the idea that satellite radio was the next big thing, so why spend money on terrestrial radio? But I think people are starting to realize that satellite's numbers aren't very good. They keep losing money. I think finally the bloom is off that rose. That's been the biggest change in the last year."
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