Clear Channel Buy-Out Doubts Keep Growing
January 8, 2008 at 7:32 AM (PT)
The $19.5 billion leveraged buy-out of CLEAR CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS could be the next victim of the storm in the deal world, reports THE FINANCIAL TIMES. Skepticism that THOMAS H. LEE and BAIN CAPITAL will go through with their purchase on the original terms has been fed by the falling share prices of comparable companies.
CLEAR CHANNEL's stock traded yesterday at $35.06, a discount to the $39.20 price the buyers agreed in MAY, 2007, which suggests that investors are betting against the deal. "It is susceptible to recession but that was built into the plan," said one person familiar with the thinking of the buying group. "There is no good reason to walk."
I don't see anything yet that indicates the deal won't go through...
The purchase is expected to receive FCC approval as early as the end of this week. Bankers familiar with the transaction say the buyers are unlikely to do anything before regulators sign off on the deal, if only to keep their options open.
"I don't see anything yet that indicates the deal won't go through," said one senior banker involved in the deal. "But there are a lot of undercurrents, including the fact that the returns for the sponsors are terrible and the break-up fee isn't huge."
A Tougher Viewpoint
24/7WALLST.COM takes a harsher view, writing "the odds that the buyers of CLEAR CHANNEL (CCU) will walk on the deal are probably north of 99%. The total value of the buy-out is $19.5 billion. According to the FT's skepticism that THOMAS H. LEE and BAIN CAPITAL will go through with their purchase on the original terms has been fed by the falling share prices of comparable companies.'"
If the private equity buyers walk away, they would be likely to have to pay a $500 million break-up fee to the company.
Some of the banks providing the debt are also committed to coming up with some of the equity and would share in paying that fee. Banks have been trying to reduce financing commitments for buy-outs. Even when the deal was first struck in NOVEMBER, 2006, competitors to THOMAS H. LEE and BAIN CAPITAL thought the terms aggressive.
When contacted by ALL ACCESS, a CLEAR CHANNEL spokesperson declined comment.