A dozen radio stations in Vermont will be on the auction block in May as part of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross last week approved a motion by Nassau Broadcasting Partners LLC to sell its chain of 46 stations at auction to help pay creditors.
The Vermont stations include WEXP, “The Fox,” in Rutland, WZLF-FM in White River Junction, and WORK, “Frank FM,” WSNO-AM and WWFY-FM, “Froggy 100.9,” in Barre.
According to documents in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, Nassau Broadcasting Partners owes $283.7 million, including unpaid and deferred interest.
Its major creditors include Goldman Sachs, Fortress Credit Opportunities and P.E. Capital LLC.
In his 11-page Feb. 22 order approving the motion, Gross found, “The debtors’ determination to pursue the proposed sale transaction constitutes a valid and sound exercise of the debtors’ business judgment.” Gross continued that the direction Nassau Broadcasting is taking without a stalking-horse bidder “is reasonably likely to encourage fair and competitive bidding at auction.”
A stalking-horse bidder allows a company to avoid low bids by selecting one interested buyer from a pool of interested parties to make the opening bid at a set price.
The court set a date of April 27 for the submission of bids. If one or more bids is received, an auction will be held May 3. A final hearing on the sale is scheduled for May 7.
Nassau Broadcasting Partners was forced into an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy in September by its major creditors.
In October, the court agreed to convert the bankruptcy to a Chapter 11 reorganization.
But on Feb. 8, Nassau Broadcasting Partners asked the court for permission to sell its assets at auction.
“The debtor’s balance sheet reflects far too much secured indebtedness for these businesses and it cannot be sustained; an orderly liquidation process in the form of a proposed sale will, in all likelihood, generate greater recoveries for creditors than a piecemeal liquidation, and no one could fairly argue otherwise,” the company said in its motion.
Nassau’s website lists the following Vermont stations with city of license:
WORK-FM, Barre; WWFY-FM, Berlin; WWOD-FM, Hartford; WFYX-FM, Walpole (N.H); WZLF-FM, White River Junction; WXLF-FM, Bellows Falls; WEXP-FM, Brandon/Jamaica; WTHK-FM, Wilmington; WMOO-FM, Derby Center; WSNO-AM, Barre; WNHV-AM, White River Junction; WIKE-AM, Newport.
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