Persons close to the project said there's an agreement in principle with a French investor group. "We have a signed term sheet," said Mr. Roshan, who declined to comment further. A term sheet is akin to a letter of intent that outlines the contours of a deal agreement, but is not considered binding, said executives familiar with the deal market.
"It's a pretty meaningful first step," said one such executive, "but deals with a signed term sheet do fall apart."
The investor group, according to people familiar with the matter, is led by former Moroccan national Maria Oufkir. Ms. Oufkir is the sister of Malika Oufkir, who in 2001 wrote "Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail," published by the Talk Miramax imprint. The Oufkirs' father was Gen. Muhammed Oufkir, who was described by a Boston Review writer as "the brutal and much-feared minister of the interior for King Hassan II," who ruled Morocco for nearly 40 years. In 1972, Gen. Oufkir was involved in a failed coup attempt, after which, according to a U.S. State Department report, he "died under mysterious circumstances." The Oufkir family spent years in jails and under house arrest. In 1996, Maria Oufkir fled Morocco for France.
The agreement with Ms. Oufkir's group is described by insiders as being for slightly more than $15 million, with the funds slated to come in two major installments preceded by one smaller payment. (No payments had been made as of press time.) Ms. Oufkir could not be reached for comment.
Radar's money search has been an ongoing soap-opera saga in the tight confines of the New York magazine world, in which Mr. Roshan is both highly regarded and well-known. Two issues came out last year, with a press run of around 160,000 on the second. But in retrospect, those two issues are best understood as the magazine equivalent of a band's demo tape: A "demonstration" of why an unsigned band deserves a label's dollars, or, in Radar's case, investor money. Some contributors are still owed money for work on Radar's early issues.
Around a year ago, Radar had discussions with Dennis Publishing, said President-CEO Stephen Colvin. But Dennis decided it was "not in a position to invest in any other magazines," said Mr. Colvin, owing to its recent launches Blender and The Week. "We did believe that Maer Roshan is a phenomenally talented editor who'd developed a unique proposition with Radar."
Talks with the Mort Zuckerman-led coalition of investors who failed to buy New York magazine appear to have dissolved, according to insiders. Mr. Zuckerman could not be reached.
At key points in recent months Mr. Roshan had sounded out confidants on what he described as potential, and roughly equivalent offers from Mr. Zuckerman's group and one from another French party-presumably Ms. Oufkir's group.
Radar insiders said until a deal is formally signed with the investment group, it is free to talk to others about financing- and continues to.
Mr. Roshan said Radar's received 21,000 subscription inquiries to date. He also cited its previous ad and newsstand performance, as well an A-list cadre of Radar editors still waiting for the start-up.
He compared Radar to Miramax. "They do movies aimed at smaller, more discerning audiences. The budget is smaller to make up for that. And they've proved there's a very big audience and upside in reaching those people."