By Tony Silber

When 101communications
said in September that its owner, the private-equity firm Frontenac Company, would be selling it, CEO Jeff Klein said he expected the deal to be done by the end of the year.

Now, with a just week to go, he and everybody else close to the deal are saying nothing.

That the deal has lagged a bit may be an indication of the state of the deal market;in the wake of the collapse of the Advanstar sale
and the ABRY-F+W lawsuit
, plus rising interest rates;many observers say the frothy days of earlier in 2005 are over.

At the American Business Media
Top Management Meeting a month ago, dealmakers were saying that the 101 sweepstakes had come down to a single prospective buyer: A West Coast magazine-industry operator backed by a private-equity firm.

In recent days, observers of the deal scene have been raising Neal Vitale’s name. Vitale, who is based in Los Angeles, is a former president of Petersen Publishing. He’s backed by the equity firm Nautic Partners.

Reached earlier this week, Vitale said he had nothing to say on 101. Asked if that meant he was declining to comment or that he is not involved in the 101 deal, Vitale said, “No comment is no comment. You’re free to speculate on anything you want.”

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