Mark Mays to leave Clear Channel


Like his brother, CEO Mark Mays is hitting the exit door at Clear Channel Communications, the company his father, Lowry, started in 1972. Mays announced late Tuesday that he would step down as CEO at the end of this year, although he will continue to be Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Randall Mays, Mark’s younger brother, left the company’s executive ranks the end of last year after announcing his departure last October. He had been President and CFO. He remains a director and Vice Chairman.

Mark is 46, has been CEO since October 2004 and was in other executive positions prior to that. He had been a director of Channel Communications since 1998. Randall, 44, had been CFO since February 1997 and President from July 2008 until his departure the end of last year. Mark had reassumed the President title after Randall left the post.

The two brothers had remained at Clear Channel as the two top operating executives even after nearly their entire family stake was bought out as Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners became the primary owners of the company in July 2008. The ill-timed transaction took place as the advertising market and national economy were heading into a deep recession. In his announcement that he would step down as CEO Mark Mays noted the “positive trends” now being seen and said it was a good time for a new CEO to take over.

Here is the email that Mark Mays sent to staffers on Tuesday evening:

Good Evening,
I wanted to share with you a personal decision I have made about our future.  Having devoted the vast majority of my time and attention to Clear Channel for the last 21 years, I have decided to relinquish my CEO responsibilities at the end of 2010, but will remain Chairman of the Board at the Company I love.
I have thought carefully about the steps we need to take as a company to realize our full potential over the long-term.  We have significantly strengthened our management team, and we are fortunate to have robust leadership in place in our businesses.   After many hard decisions over the last year, we are well-positioned to continue leading and succeeding in the marketplace.  Given the positive trends we are seeing, I am very optimistic about the future of Clear Channel.  That’s why I feel this is an opportune time for a new CEO to work with the management team in leading our terrific company forward.  While you can imagine this was not an easy decision for me, it was made collaboratively and amicably with the full support of our financial sponsors.
I have asked the Board of Directors to initiate a search for my successor.  When a new CEO is named, I will focus my attention on continuing to serve as Chairman of the Board, and will remain actively involved with the company.
In the interim, I am dedicated to ensuring solid financial performance, and to achieving a seamless transition.  I will remain a significant shareholder, with aligned interests and a deep commitment to the success of Clear Channel.
I am grateful to all of you for your dedication, focus and commitment in the many successes we have achieved, and in meeting the many challenges we have faced.  I ask for your support in assuring our continued success by effectively serving our customers with the Clear Channel service that we have become famous for.
With best regards,
Mark Mays

RBR-TVBR observation: From the time of the buyout by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners we figured it was just a matter of time until the Mays brothers decided to look for other opportunities. It has to be very different to work for someone else at a company previously controlled by your family.