Clear Channel closes — finally

July 30, 2008

drumroll.jpgDrumroll, please: Almost two years after radio station and billboard company Clear Channel Communications began exploring strategic options, its $17.9 billion takeover finally closed on Wednesday.

The deal, slowed by legal battles in two states and negotiations to lower the purchase price, became a symbol of the buyout industry’s glory days and the subsequent struggles of the credit crunch.

Clear Channel had agreed to be acquired by private equity firms Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners last year. The market quickly changed and credit to fund the acquisition became more costly and difficult to secure.

The buyout firms had agreed to buy Clear Channel for $39.20 per share, but were forced to file lawsuits in New York and Texas to ensure that a syndicate of six banks would still fund the deal. In May, the bank syndicate, the private equity buyers and Clear Channel struck a deal to lower the price to $36 per share.

And now Clear Channel’s stock will cease trading at the end of the day. Phew!

Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio also closed their merger this week after struggling for 526 days, or 17 months, to gain regulatory approval. The new Sirius XM Radio, with more than 18.5 million subscribers, is now the second-largest radio broadcaster after Clear Channel.

The next marathon wait? Shareholders of BCE Inc, the Canadian telecommunications company, must wait until Dec. 11 for the long-awaited $34.1 billion deal to close. Of course, that’s more than five months from now — who knows what could happen?

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