Citadel set as ‘stalking horse’ bid by receiver for WLNE sale

Posted 2/10/11

(Corrected, 5:35 p.m.)

PROVIDENCE – Citadel Communications Co., of Bronxville, N.Y., has been chosen as the stalking-horse bidder in the sale of WLNE-TV ABC 6, the court-appointed receiver said Thursday.

The company submitted a bid of $4 million, a source in a position to know told Providence Business News.

Matthew McGowan, Providence attorney and receiver for the television station that has been in receivership since July, said he designated Citadel as the lead bidder because the company is “established, successful and financially secure.” It currently owns and operates three ABC affiliate and one CBS affiliate stations.

“We have a number of other well-qualified offerers who are interested in acquiring the station, and now that the stalking horse bid has been established, we are prepared to move forward toward obtaining court approval for a sale,” McGowan said in a prepared statement.

As Providence Business News first reported its Feb. 7-13 edition, former Providence Mayor Joseph R. Paolino Jr. is part of a group that has put in a proposal for Channel 6, but he has declined to identify the group or other members due to a confidentiality agreement he signed.

McGowan said he has received six bids for the station. The receiver under state law has the authority to determine the best bid – the stalking-horse bid – both for the price offered and the nature of the deal proposed. This leading bid than sets the benchmark that other bidders can compete to match or exceed.

Other bidders have until March 18 to submit competing offers, McGowan said, and a hearing has been scheduled March 22 in Superior Court to select the winning bid. An auction may be held at the March 22 hearing, McGowan said, if competing bids are received.

McGowan, contacted late Thursday afternoon, declined to reveal details of the stalking horse bid at this time.” As far as I know,” McGowan said, Paolino is not part of the Citadel group that submitted the stalking horse bid.

Citadel Communications Co. was incorrectly identified in the earlier version of this story. It is not the owner of six radio stations in the Rhode Island market, including WPRO, both AM and FM; WEAN-FM; WPRV-AM; WWKX; and WWLI. And it is not based in New York and Las Vegas.

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