Updated from 12:33 p.m.
is moving deliberately toward a sale of valuable radio assets under new chief Bob Iger.
The Burbank, Calif., company's 77 station-strong radio division, which includes popular ESPN sports and ABC News assets in major markets across the U.S., is said to be worth upwards of $3 billion. Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns are working on a possible sale.
reported Thursday that Disney fielded bids from three companies last week.
-- which is in the process of selling its TV station group -- joined
in submitting bids, according to the report. The
report indicates that those bids were "underwhelming."
According to sources, however, the size of the acquisition would be prohibitive for those three companies in terms of gobbling up the group wholesale, and it is more likely that they will bid on certain assets to beef up where they can.
As for others in the radio space, one source says that
( CXR) or
might be able to pull off the deal, but Clear Channel in particular would bump into FCC ownership regulations in a pursuit for the Disney assets. Clear Channel also has its hands full spinning off its concert entertainment unit.
A Disney rep declined to comment, reiterating the party line that its radio group is a "wonderful asset."
Emmis' 16 TV stations could fetch up to $1 billion. The company has engaged the Blackstone Group to facilitate the process. A TV sale is likely to fund future acquisitions for its core radio business.
A source close to the Emmis TV sale says that the first-phase exploratory period has been completed and phase two, due diligence, has started. Emmis has set an Aug. 15 deadline to consider bids. The source says that TV groups are "looking at individual stations" and that there are "no serious bids for the entire group." Emmis would apparently be willing to take a haircut on the $1 billion price tag were someone to bid for the whole group, the source says, adding that the other wildcard is the possibility that some private equity group like Providence might enter the mix.
Emmis CEO Jeffrey Smulyan says more than 15 companies remain in the due diligence process, and a number of serious bids have been made for the entire group. The company rejects as "totally false" the notion that it might take a haircut on the sale, and reiterates that it expects to garner "significantly more" than the $1 billion or so that Wall Street expects.
Additionally, Smulyan says Emmis has signaled to potential bidders that "we are indifferent" as to whether bids have been made for the entire group or just particular stations, and has indicated that flexibility on that count could be helpful.
Disney shares were trading down 18 cents to $25.65 Thursday.