The acquisition of Clear Channel
The original agreement occurred after a bidding contest for the company, which owns 1,150 radio stations and 42 TV stations, among other assets. At about the same time the sale to Lee and Bain was announced, Clear Channel disclosed that it will sell off 448 of its radio stations and all of its television stations. The radio stations that are earmarked for divestiture generally are not located in the top 100 Arbitron radio markets.
The price for the deal, which likely won't close until late this year at the earliest, values the company at $18.7 billion plus the assumption of $8 billion of debt. In reaching the agreement for the sale, the Lee and Bain firms beat out another private equity group consisting of Providence Equity Partners, Blackstone Group, and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
Fidelity's beef, which the other top 10 Clear Channel holders reportedly share, involves (as you might expect) the proposed terms of the transaction. The agreed-to share price represents a 17% premium over the price before the company disclosed in October that it was looking into options for its sale. However, since the share price closed at $95.37 on Jan. 21, 2000, longer-term holders stand to be hit by substantial losses. The stock closed at $36.50 on Friday.
Another apparent bone of contention is the recent share-price appreciation of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings
The rampaging private-equity phenomenon has wrapped itself around a number of industries over the past couple of years, but it has perhaps been strongest in media. Along with Clear Channel, Tribune
Speaking of big numbers, the million-dollar question here is whether Fidelity et al. will be able to torpedo the Clear Channel buyout -- or whether they really want to. My best answers to those questions are yes and probably not, respectively. It's not uncommon for investors to sit out votes on corporate sales, so negative votes by Fidelity and its peers could cause the total vote to fall short of the required two-thirds approval rate.
But observers also shouldn't rule out gamesmanship or posturing on the institutions' part, as they maneuver for a few more dollars for each of their shares. I believe that, when all is said and done, the Clear Channel deal will be done at or near the agreed-to price.
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