EXCLUSIVE Warshaw-led consortium in $1.2 bln bid for Cumulus Media -sources

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April 14 (Reuters) - A consortium led by U.S. radio station industry veteran Jeff Warshaw has offered to acquire Cumulus Media Inc (CMLS.O) for close to $1.2 billion, including debt, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Warshaw has informed Cumulus, an Atlanta-based owner and operator of 406 radio stations, that he would be willing to take it private for $15 to $17 per share, the sources said.

Cumulus shares were hovering around $11 before news of the bid emerged on Thursday afternoon. They rose 40% on the news to end trading at $14.21

Warshaw indicated he would be willing to pay more, subject to due diligence, the sources added. Further details on Warshaw's consortium could not be learned.

It was unclear how Cumulus would respond to the offer and no deal was certain, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the matter was confidential.

A Cumulus spokesperson confirmed that the company had received "an unsolicited, non-binding, highly conditional indication of interest" and that its board of directors was reviewing it alongside its financial and legal advisers.

Warshaw, who is the chief executive of Connoisseur Media, an operator of 13 radio stations, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Beyond its radio stations, Cumulus has a digital platform that ranks among the top five podcast networks in the United States. The company had net long-term debt of almost $800 million as of the end of December.

Cumulus is seeing strong advertising demand driven by sports betting, government, restaurants and cryptocurrency platforms, Noble Capital Markets analysts, who have a $27 price target on the stock, wrote in February. Cumulus' revenue grew 12% year-over-year in 2021, while its earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortization grew 66%.

Warshaw's blank-check acquisition firm Virtuoso Acquisition Corp merged with automotive data analytics firm Wejo last year in a $1.1 billion deal.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York and Dawn Chmielewski in Los Angeles; Editing by Howard Goller and Leslie Adler

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