This week’s blockbuster deal that saw nine Cumulus stations in new hands, while the company picked up three stations in Indianapolis, is playing well with the brokers Radio Ink interviewed last month in a special series about Cumulus and iHeart. This week, they all seem to think it was a great deal for Cumulus that helped strengthen its recovery, while helping Educational Media Foundation and Entercom improve their reach.
“It was a brilliant deal that made Cumulus stronger,” said Elliot Evers, Managing Director of MVP Capital. “It was highly accretive, generating roughly six million dollars in broadcast cash flow.”
Eddie Esserman, Managing Director for Media Service Group said the deal “was surprising, not a shock, but it makes sense. Those markets were not super performers for Cumulus.” Esserman sees EMF as a winner. “Every broker that has done deals with EMF knew their market wishlist certainly included Atlanta on the large end and Savannah on the small end, along with a greater presence in New York. For EMF it was almost like they ran the table.”
“Cumulus sold some of their underperformers in the big markets and really the only current buyer was EMF,” observed Michael Bergner, Bergner & Company. “The swap in Indianapolis for Springfield and New York certainly makes sense for Entercom because they get an additional facility in New York and Cumulus gets a consolidated position in Indianapolis.”
President of Henson Media, Ed Henson, thought the Entercom component was interesting. “It might give you a little better insight into what you might see more of if the ownership rules are changed. We could see more trading of weak positions in some markets to strengthen your hand in other markets.”
So, is Cumulus done?
“I think Cumulus probably feels for the moment they’ve taken enough money off table. So I don’t know if they are going to be aggressively selling more stations. This definitely fits into their game plan for the time being,” said Bergner. “Cumulus still might have a strategic move or two still up its sleeve for 2019, but this is the big fireworks.”
“Cumulus has been judicious in picking assets that have not been performing for them, so I think they have run the course for that class of assets,” said Evers. “I do think Cumulus will be potentially selling off some smaller markets, but no more blockbuster deals like this.”