Ion buyout gets FCC nod


The final pieces are falling into place for Citadel Investment Group to complete its buyout of the shareholders of Ion Media Networks and take the former Paxson Communications private along with partner NBC Universal. The FCC ruled on Monday (12/31/07) that Citadel could become the majority owner of Ion and its 59 O&O television stations. The Commission rejected arguments from objectors who claimed that NBC Universal had already taken control of Ion without FCC approval. Commissioner Michael Copps concurred in the unanimous decision, but again called for the Commission to begin an inquiry into private equity funds and their impact on media ownership.

Citadel already owns nearly all of the publicly traded shares of Ion, but it can now close on its long-pending acquisition of Bud Paxson’s super-voting shares and have voting control of the company. What now remains to be wrapped up are some lawsuits filed in Delaware Chancery Court by disgruntled preferred shareholders who wanted a bigger payout. Most, however, tendered their shares and took the cash offered by Citadel when the court refused to issue an injunction blocking the tender offer.