As a broker, I often analyzed the likelihood of a potential merger. The mere appearance of a bid does not equate to a sale going through.
After seeing Flyers owner Ed Snider last week, I am still doubtful that the Rendell led bid for the Philadelphia Media Network will prevail.
While his guard dog Ike Richman, longtime vice-president of public relations for Comcast-Spectacor, prevented him from saying anything about buying the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, I could glean plenty from what he did not say.
Having interviewed Comcast-Spectacor CEO Snider several times, I can tell you that he is an indefatigable salesman for his interests. While riding a subway surface car, I once got a call directly from Snider without the help of his loyal secretary. He wanted to talk about the Jewish Hall of Fame that he created and underwrote at the National Museum of American Jewish History. Always a charmer, he obligingly laughed when I asked if he borrowed the hall of fame concept from sports. He spoke in great detail about his future plans for the hall of fame.
Don't get Snider started on the Ayn Rand and her philosophies because he will talk for hours.
To sell Infinity Live, the 79 year old Snider was willing to put on a hard hat and muss up his perfectly coiffed silver mane. He "promised" that he "was going to be there every night that there was not a Flyers game.
Even if Snider is under strict orders for Richman not to talk about a certain subject, he can not resist saying something. When I mentioned his controversial invitation to then vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to throw out the puck at a Flyers game, Snider's first response was to say, "I don't talk about politics." He could not resist adding, "Inviting her did not mean I supported her."
When I asked Snider about the sale of the Inquirer on Monday, he was not aware of the recent brouhaha and former Governor Rendell's vow of silence. From my experience, Snider knows everything about the subject if he cares about it. He will dazzle you with his command of facts and figures. At the same interview, he could tick off the revenue numbers for a sports bar in Toronto. His lack of knowledge is my first clue that he is not really interested in Philadelphia Media Network.
Once the topic of the papers was introduced, Snider did not pursue it. Snider, being a born salesman and a chatty Kathy, would have been unable to resist trying to convince me that he would be a good owner. His refusal to persuade is my second clue.
Snider has a noticeably lack of interest in the internet. As far as I know, he does not email. His secretary prints out his emails.
Snider is officially part of the bid to buy the Inquirer and Daily News, but his heart and soul is not into it. If Snider wanted the Inquirer, he would be mounting a charm offensive albeit off the record. My guess is that he agreed to be part of the bid because he may need Rendell's help on other projects.
For those that are worried that Snider will try to exert influence if he becomes an owner, you can relax. He will always strong arm the media to give his beloved Flyers good coverage. He has indicated to me, in the past,that he knows that his political opinions would not go over well in this overwhelmingly Democratic city and would dent his popularity.
If the bid is successful,the papers may gain from having Snider on board as an owner. He is one of the region's most sophisticated, erudite people.