Clear Channel closes — finally

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!

Clear Channel: We’re back again

Déjà Vu for Clear Channel shareholders.  Ten months ago, they gathered in San Antonio to approve a $39.20 a share deal. Today, they’re back voting on a shaved price of $36 a share. The deal has seen enough drama over the past couple of years to rival an HBO series, with upset shareholders, wrangling between bankers and buyers and a showdown in court.  

The deal faces the same tough hurdle as the first time round. Under Texas law it needs two thirds support to win — and “no” votes count as against the deal. Clear Channel Chief Executive Mark Mays told Reuters in May that he didn’t have concerns about the vote because the deal had support from major shareholders such as Highfields, which agreed to keep up to $400 million equity in the company.

“Considering our stock was at $29 two days ago, it’s a fair deal from all aspects,” Mays said at the time.  The deal was also backstopped by funds being put into escrow until it closes, giving it a higher level of certainty that this time, it’ll close.