A federal bankruptcy judge approved the sale Tuesday of a longtime Chapel Hill radio station to a Colorado investor.
Leslie Rudd, the chief executive officer of the Leslie Rudd Investment Co., president of Standard Beverage Co. and owner of Dean & DeLuca Inc., submitted the highest bid for VilCom Interactive Media at an auction Friday. VilCom owns AM/FM radio station WCHL and its Chapelboro.com marketing and news arm.
The bid amount was not disclosed, but previous court records show it may have been more than $500,000.
No other details were immediately available, but the station’s current owner Jim Heavner said he has been looking for someone to take over for some time. He expects the station’s mission to provide local news and sports coverage to continue, he said.
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“For several months now, we have been looking for a successor owner who might live somewhere else, but had both an affinity for Chapel Hill and the financial capability to do all the things that will need to be done to keep WCHL and Chapelboro.com state of the art,” Heavner said Monday.
“By all accounts, Leslie Rudd is just that person,” he said. “He’s an extremely successful business investor, has lived in Chapel Hill, and maintains local ties. He has promised to maintain WCHL’s mission of hyper-local service and make it better.”
Heavner has owned the 62-year-old radio station off and on since 1978 and is the majority owner of several companies under the VilCom umbrella, some of which have been sold since he filed for bankruptcy in October.
Heavner said he sought Chapter 11 protection to avoid a hostile takeover of his marketing publisher University Directories, which serves more than 300 universities and colleges under the name The AroundCampus Group.
Greg Lindberg, president of Durham-based Eli Global, was in talks to buy University Directories, when UDX LLC, another of Lindberg’s companies, bought University Directories’ loans from the Bank of North Carolina, according to court records. UDX told Heavner the loans were in default and sought ownership of the company, records show.
While Eli Global had signed confidentiality agreements to review University Directories financial books, court filings allege, the company used the information to launch a hostile takeover. Lindberg alleges UDX is owed more than $5 million and University Directories officials had “grossly mismanaged their financial operations” and were doctoring financial documents.
Court documents said Heavner and his partners had moved money between businesses as needed to pay their creditors, making it difficult to determine which business owed the debt. The case was converted last month to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which allows assets to be sold to pay the creditors.
Heavner’s homes in Hilton Head, S.C., and on Gimghoul Road in Chapel Hill sold last year for roughly $10 million. Heavner sold University Directories in April to Scottsdale, Ariz.-based AroundCampus Holdings LLC.
Records show Heavner and longtime partner Bob Woodruff recently bought another VilCom business, Print Shop Management, while WCHL investor Edward Holmes formed VIM Acquisitions LLC with Woodruff as a minority investor. VIM Acquisitions submitted a roughly $450,000 bid for VilCom Interactive Media in June.
Rudd’s offer was at least $60,000 more, court records show.