While still awaiting regulatory approval for its private equity buyout, Clear Channel Communications announced plans to pay a regular quarterly dividend to its current shareholders. CCU says it is confident it will obtain FCC and antitrust clearance for the buyout, but that closing will not come before the end of 2007. The company said it intends to exercise its right to extend the termination date for the buyout, which had been set for December 12th. The new termination date will be June 12, 2008. "Subject to the receipt of the requisite regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions, Clear Channel expects the closing of the merger will occur during the first quarter 2008," the company announcement stated. Under the deal, shareholders are to be paid 39.20 per share as the company is taken private by Thomas H. Lee Partners, Bain Capital and the Mays family. In the meantime, the regular dividend of 18.75 cents per share will be paid on or before January 15th to shareholders of record on New Year’s Eve.
RBR observation: The shareholders have voted to approve the deal and the parties insist that the financing is holding firm, but what it holding up those regulatory approvals? It is hard to imagine that there is anything for the DOJ antitrust watchdogs to really consider, since the company is not growing through a merger, just changing owners. We didn’t think there was any reason for anyone at the FCC to object, either, but then Commissioner Michael Copps voted "no" on the sale of the Clear Channel TV group to Providence Equity Partners – not that he bothered to cite any legal basis for his no vote, just a vague concern that the FCC hadn’t looked into the implications of private equity investment in media. Copps seems to think that is something new. Wake up Commissioner, private equity funds have been investing in radio and TV for decades.