Deal estimated at over $20 million

Indianapolis-based media company Emmis Communications has beat out Gotham-based Primedia to acquire Los Angeles magazine from the Walt Disney Co.

In a deal that concluded this weekend, Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan paid somewhere just north of $20 million for the 183,373-circulation monthly.

Best known for its 13 FM radio stations (including Power 106 in L.A., and 98 KISS FM and Hot 97 in New York) and its six local network-affiliated TV stations (including 5 Fox affiliates), the 20-year-old company has been aggressively pursuing local magazine titles in recent years. In addition to Los Angeles, the company now owns Texas Monthly, Indianapolis Monthly and Atlanta and Cincinnati mags.

“We love Southern California and we plan to expand our radio presence there as well,” said Smulyan, who first approached Disney chief Michael Eisner about Los Angeles magazine two years ago. “We discovered 15 years ago with Indianapolis Monthly the value of strong local media. We understand that on a marketing side, a magazine really complements our radio stations.”

Smulyan said he is pleased with the magazine’s management staff and has no plans to make any large-scale changes.

“People here are surprisingly upbeat about this,” Los Angles editor in chief Spencer Beck told Daily Variety. “If Texas Monthly is any indication, this company really knows how to put out a high-quality magazine.”

With the completion of the Los Angeles deal, Disney is officially out of the magazine publishing biz. When the Mouse House shed the bulk of its magazine holdings by selling Fairchild Publications to Conde Nast in August, it kept Los Angeles reportedly because Eisner wanted to have a hand in the city’s press. According to insiders, Eisner had a change of heart toward the glossy after increased pressure from stockholders to focus on Disney’s key businesses.

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