Mays family awaits Clear Channel buyout

By Laurie Bennett

February 12, 2008 at 11:03am

For the Mays family, recent months have conjured Dickens’s Great Expectations.

The proposed $19 billion acquisition of Clear Channel, the broadcasting company founded by L. Lowry Mays, was announced more than a year ago. The buyers, Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, reportedly delayed seeking approval from the Justice Department until they had cleared review by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC approved the deal on Jan. 10.

In the meantime, the market has had doubts about whether the acquisition would ever go through, with the stock price sliding precipitously in recent months. The Wall Street Journal has reported on speculation that Bain and THL will try to back out of the deal, citing declines in the company’s performance.

However, Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays and THL Partners principal Scott Sperling have said publicly that they believe the deal will close this quarter. And the Zurich-based investment bank UBS AG is obviously optimistic, filing notice with the SEC yesterday that it had acquired a 5.8-percent stake in the company.

L. Lowry Mays, who built the company from a single radio station to a network of more than 1,200 stations, stepped down as CEO in 2004. His son Mark took the reins. Another son, Randall, is president and CFO.

Family holdings in the company would be worth more than $1 billion if the deal goes through.

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