US radio station owner Clear Channel sold for $26.7 billion

MUMBAI: Clear Channel Communications which is America's biggest radio station owner, has agreed to be acquired for about $18.7 billion by an investment group.

Clear Channel owns or operates 1,150 radio stations. It also owns a majority of Clear Channel Outdoor, an operator of billboard and bus-stop advertisements.

The group that has bought Clear Channel is led by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners. Under the terms of the agreement, Clear Channel shareholders will receive $37.60 in cash for each share of Clear Channel common stock they hold, representing a premium of approximately 25 per cent over Clear Channel’s average closing share price of $29.99 during the 30 trading days ended October 24, 2006, the day before the Company first acknowledged that it was evaluating strategic alternatives.

Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and Deutsche Bank as well as Credit Suisse, RBS and Wachovia are acting as financial advisors and providing firm financing commitments to the private equity group. Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and RBS are also providing equity commitments.

Clear Channel CEO Mark P. Mays said, “We are very pleased to announce this transaction which provides substantial value to our shareholders. We look forward to working with Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners to continue our business plan to provide exceptional programming to our audiences and value to our advertising partners.”

Clear Channel also plans to sell 448 of its radio stations in markets outside the top 100 - Madison is in the top 100 - as well as its 42-station television group, which also are located in smaller markets. Collectively the properties made up less than 10 per cent of the company's revenues last year.

Thomas H. Lee Partners co-president Scott Sperling said, “Clear Channel is one of the nation’s truly great companies that has the finest collection of outdoor and radio assets in the industry. We are extremely pleased to be partnered with the management team led by Mark and Randall Mays and to have the opportunity to work with them and to grow this company that was created by its chairman and founder, L. Lowry Mays. Clear Channel has tremendous long term growth opportunities in both the radio and outdoor businesses and we look forward to partnering with Mark and Randall to create value in the years ahead.”

Bain Capital MD John Connaughton said, “We are very impressed with Clear Channel’s strong management team and the company’s leadership positions in a variety of markets and media formats. Clear Channel is an exceptional media franchise that is well-positioned to grow thanks to the solid foundation the Mays family has created. We look forward to partnering with Clear Channel as it continues to innovate in meeting the changing needs of the audiences and advertisers it serves.”

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