Firms compete for Clear Channel

Vote postponed to May 8

The two private equity firms angling for Clear Channel upped their bid on Wednesday, but it’s still unclear whether shareholders will approve the move.

Bain Capital Partners and Thomas H. Lee Partners have bumped their offer to $19.35 billion, or $39 per share — as well as the assumption of almost $8 billion in debt. Clear Channel shareholders had been expected to vote on the bid today, but that vote has now been postponed to May 8.

The firms had originally offered $37.60 per share to take the company private; that was met by resistance from shareholders — particularly Fidelity Management & Research, which has been pushing for a higher price. The new $39 per share bid is still lower than what Fidelity and at least one other shareholder have been demanding (at least $40).

The buyout was first announced in November. The largest radio station owner in the country, Clear Channel ballooned in size in the late 1990s after deregulation led to massive radio industry consolidation. Company also operates a successful outdoor division.

More recently, however, Clear Channel has been hit by a radio advertising slump. Company has already announced plans to sell off its TV properties and many of its small-market radio stations.

Clear Channel stock hit a high of around $100 in 2000; by the time the private equity bid was announced in November, the stock was hovering around $32. Clear Channel Communications closed Wednesday at $36.23 a share, down 49¢.

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