A passel of media conglomerates are readying bids for the Weather Channel, including NBCU, CBS, Time Warner, Comcast, Liberty and Disney. But many of them are balking at the $5 billion asking
price, figuring the privately held Landmark Communications is worth more on the order of $4 billion. And while there has been interest from companies like Bain Capital, Providence Equity Partners and
Madison Dearborn, the current credit market crunch may take private-equity players out of the running.
While there's some rationale for Weather Channel owner Landmark Communications and its would-be buyers to use [The New York Times] to communicate with each other, we won't know what's really going on until the auction ends. The cautionary tale: The NYT once reported that Getty Images was unable to find a buyer, it did in fact get one -- within two weeks -- and at 40% premium over its then-trading value.