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Citadel and Cumulus in Merger Talks

LAS VEGAS, NV — Citadel Broadcasting, the owner of four Syracuse market radio stations, announced Thursday that it is holding “exclusive negotiations for a potential merger with Cumulus Media Inc.”  Cumulus, the second-largest radio operator in the nation, confirmed the news today.

According to a press release issued by Citadel, Cumulus is offering a combination of cash and stock totaling $37 for every share of Citadel stock (CDELA.PK), which rocketed from $30 to about $35 per share yesterday.  Today, the company’s OTC stock closed at $34.75.  Cumulus, which trades on the NASDAQ (symbol: CMLS), closed at $5.05/share today.

Citadel’s release includes the disclaimer that the deal is still “subject, among other things, to completion of due diligence and financing arrangements.”

Atlanta-based Cumulus issued its own statement today, basically beginning with the same basic information as the Citadel release.  It then mentions some of the benefits Cumulus would reap from the deal.  Most of the benefits focus on the fact that a larger company can do more things with less money — or, as they worded it, “the scale necessary to effectively compete and invest in the local digital media marketplace.”

Citadel currently owns 225 stations in over 50 markets.  It also owns syndicator Citadel Media, formerly known as ABC Radio Networks.  Cumulus has 347 stations in 67 markets.  If the merger goes through, that’ll be approximately 570 stations in 120 markets, including eight of the top 10 U.S. radio markets.

In Syracuse, Citadel owns rocker 95X (WAQX), top-40 93Q (WNTQ), 105.9 The Big Talker (WXTL) and sports-talk The Score 1260 (WSKO).  The company also owns stations in Binghamton, Buffalo and New York City.  Within the state, Cumulus owns stations in Poughkeepsie and Westchester.

According to RadioInk.com, the deal is already done — although the sale isn’t “official” yet, the website reports that Citadel CEO Farid Suleman has already sent his own statement to Citadel employees, confirming the sale of the company.

Of course, we’ll be keeping an eye on any developments.

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