Now that the FCC has signed off on the privatization of Clear Channel via its sale to Thomas H. Lee and Bain Capital, the next stop is the Department of Justice. Clear Channel announced that it has initiated the DoJ approval process. The change in ownership was filed in December 2006 and shareholder approval has been sought since last spring, but events have conspired to stall the transaction, including balky shareholders, shaky stock prices, a tough station trading environment which has held up a number of spin-offs, and instability in the credit market. Rumors have been circulating that the investment groups may wish to pull out of the deal, but they would have to pay a stiff penalty to do so.
RBR/TVBR observation: As we noted earlier, the consolidation aspects of this transaction are actually favorable to those who wish for less of it. The transaction will remove grandfathering status for a handful of otherwise oversized market clusters. And Clear Channel has been selling properties anyway, regardless of whether or not the Lee/Bain deal goes through. This would seem to be a no-brainer for the DoJ.