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Radio player Citadel tunes in $418 mil IPO

Co. posts loss of $33.8 mil, returns to the NYSE

NEW YORK — Las Vegas-based radio broadcaster Citadel Broadcasting enjoyed a warm return to the Big Board Friday, as the company sold 22 million shares in an otherwise sluggish day of trading.

Citadel, the sixth-largest radio group in the U.S., with 138 FM and 61 AM stations in 41 markets, hung on to its opening price of $20.65 in its New York Stock Exchange debut, raising $418 million in a rare media initial public offering underwritten by deal-starved investment banks Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse First Boston. Company earlier in the week increased the number of shares in the offering from 17 million to meet demand.

Listing reps a return visit to the NYSE for Citadel, which was taken private in a $2 billion buyout by Forstmann Little barely 18 months ago.

Chairman-CEO Farid Suleman, formerly with Viacom-owned Infinity, is highly regarded among radio investors and considered key to Citadel’s warm reception on the Street, given the company’s lack of profits.

Citadel, which focuses mainly on midsize market stations, posted a loss of $33.8 million on sales of $77.2 million in the most recent quarter. Operating cash flow checked in at $19.7 million.

Buyers seemed unconcerned about the slowdown in radio advertising growth, expressing confidence a recovery should take hold in the fall.

Company intends to use much of the proceeds to pay down some $513 million in short-term debt.