Clear Channel Buyout Worth $26.7 Billion; Two Jacksonville Television Stations Will Be Sold off, but Radio Stations in Northeast Florida Aren't for Sale

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK BASCH

Clear Channel Communications Inc. Thursday agreed to a $26.7 billion buyout by a private investor group and announced its group of 42 television stations, including two in Jacksonville, is up for sale.

The San Antonio-based media giant also said it is selling 448 of its 1,150 radio stations, but all of the radio stations up for sale are outside the top 100 markets. Jacksonville is the 47th largest U.S. radio market, according to Arbitron Inc., so the company's seven radio stations in Northeast Florida are not for sale.

Clear Channel also owns 850 billboards in the Jacksonville area through its 90 percent stake in Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc. The company said the sale to private investors will not impact its ownership interest in the billboard company.

Clear Channel said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that "no layoffs are contemplated" at its operations because of the privatization of the company. As for the television and radio stations being sold, the filing said "we believe our employees are valuable assets that should be very attractive to any new owners."

The group of 42 television stations for sale include local Fox network affiliate WAWS TV-30, which Clear Channel acquired in 1989, and CBS affiliate WTEV TV-47, which the company has been operating since 1995.

Clear Channel spokeswoman Michelle Clarke said the company has already reached agreements on selling some of the radio stations but not the television stations.

"The intent is to sell it [the television stations] as a group," she said.

Josh McGraw, Southeast Regional Vice President of Clear Channel Television, said Thursday he had no information about who might buy the stations. McGraw, who works out of Clear Channel's Jacksonville offices, said the company held a conference call with employees to tell them as much as possible about the possible sale.

"I think they were just being 100 percent honest about what their plans are," he said.

As for the overall sale of the company, Clear Channel said a group led by Thomas H. Lee Partners L.P. and Bain Capital Partners LLC has agreed to buy the company for $37.60 a share. The $26.7 billion value of the deal includes the assumption or repayment of about $8 billion in debt. …