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Citadel Communications Picked as Front-Runner in Sale of Providence’s WLNE

As the auction date for Providence’s WLNE nears, the so-called “stalking horse” bidder has been revealed.

Attorney Matthew McGowan, the court-appointed receiver overseeing the sale of the troubled ABC-affiliate, announced on Thursday that Citadel Communications, which owns four stations in the midwest including three ABC-affiliates, has been selected as the stalking horse.

“We are very pleased that an established, successful and financially secure company like Citadel has emerged as the stalking horse bidder in this process,” McGowan said in making the announcement. “We have a number of other well-qualified offerors 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.”

Stalking horse status makes Citadel the natural front-runner in the auction since, if the station does not win ownership of the station, it will receive a break-up fee from the proceeds of the sale.

A hearing is set for March 22nd to choose the winning bidder.  Although Citadel’s bid has not been formally announced, some reports have it at $4 million.

The station was put up for sale this summer as its owner, Global Broadcasting, filed for receivership (Rhode Island’s equivalent of bankruptcy).

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