SFX Owner Clear Channel Wraps AMFM Deal, Making World's Largest Out-of-Home Media Co.

News   SFX Owner Clear Channel Wraps AMFM Deal, Making World's Largest Out-of-Home Media Co. One day after announcing it had completed the required divestiture of some 108 radio stations, Clear Channel Communications wrapped its $23.8 billion deal to purchase radio broadcaster AMFM, making it "the world's largest out-of-home media company." Clear Channel chairman and CEO Lowry Mays and AMFM Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Thomas O. Hicks jointly announced the final merger.

One day after announcing it had completed the required divestiture of some 108 radio stations, Clear Channel Communications wrapped its $23.8 billion deal to purchase radio broadcaster AMFM, making it "the world's largest out-of-home media company." Clear Channel chairman and CEO Lowry Mays and AMFM Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Thomas O. Hicks jointly announced the final merger.

Combined Clear Channel operations now include "more than 900 radio stations, 19 television stations and over 700,000 outdoor advertising displays across 40 countries."

The theatre angle here involves Clear Channel's SFX, which bought up many of the theatres and theatrical properties once owned by Livent, which went up for sale when the latter dissolved in the wake of alleged financial improprieties on the part of former Livent head Garth Drabinsky. Clear Channel's investment in SFX represents the increasingly corporate climate of Broadway theatre. Four weeks ago, Clear Channel closed the deal to acquire SFX Entertainment in a $4.7 billion, tax-free stock-for stock swap purchase. The completion of the separate AMFM deal caps a year of corporate acquisition that included the transfer of ownership of SFX Theatrical.

A Clear Channel statement indicates that "AMFM stockholders will receive 0.94 Clear Channel shares for each AMFM share held in a tax-free exchange. Upon consummation of the merger, Clear Channel will have approximately 634 million fully diluted common shares outstanding."

In a joint statement Clear Channel's Mays said, "We are pleased to have completed this merger and brought together these two outstanding teams. By combining Clear Channel's broad portfolio of out-of-home assets with AMFM's leading portfolio of well-clustered, well-managed, highly rated and geographically diversified radio operations, including a significant major market presence, we will not only be the undisputed leader, but will have the financial, programming, management and distribution resources to best serve the needs of this exciting, growing, global marketplace." AMFM's Hicks added, "Today represents an important milestone for Clear Channel and the radio and outdoor advertising industries as it creates the world's preeminent pure play out-of-home media company. The transaction also reflects our commitment to growth for our advertisers, our employees, our shareholders and the consumer marketplace, which embraces out-of-home media for its local content, accessibility and low cost, high-entertainment value. We are delighted that as a stock-for stock transaction, former AMFM shareholders -- including Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Incorporated and our affiliates which now own approximately 10 percent of Clear Channel -- will have the opportunity to participate in the continued tremendous upside of Clear Channel Communications."

Clear Channel Radio chairman and chief executive officer Randy Michaels, who "spearheaded the effort to divest 108 radio stations in order to comply with regulatory guidelines" said that the merger with AMFM "creates the first national footprint for radio.

"Clear Channel will broadcast from every state in the union making it the only radio company able to deliver targeted, geographically specific audiences to advertisers," Michaels said. "Clear Channel's unique portfolio of media assets cannot be duplicated at any price. This is truly a new era in radio, and I'm excited to be a part of it and to welcome the entire AMFM family to the Clear Channel organization."

-- By Murdoch McBride