PE Firm Closes $1 Billion Deal on Clear Channel TV Stations

Providence Equity Partners contentious buyout of 56 Clear Channel TV stations have finally closed. The Providence, R.I. firm renegotiated its original $1.225 billion offer of nearly a year ago and instead paid $1.12 billion.

The deal hit a snag earlier this year when, in a pique of buyer’s remorse amid a tumbling economy, Providence first suggested a renegotiation. San Antonio, Texas-based Clear Channel sued, and Providence subsequently its principal lender, Wachovia, to keep the bank from excusing itself altogether. Wachovia Corp. last month filed suit in a North Carolina court to get out of the deal. The Charlotte, N.C. lender is in for a reported $500 million.

The stations will be managed by a Newport Television, LLC, a holding company based in Kansas City, with Sandy DiPasquale managing. The deal covers 56 stations (including 18 digital multicast stations) in 24 small and medium markets, associated Web sites, brick-and-mortar assets and the firm running the group’s online and wireless initiatives. In terms of network affiliations, there are eight Fox; seven NBC; six each ABC and CBS; 10 CW; four My Network TV; two NBC Weather Plus (multicasts); two Telemundo; five indies; and sic affiliated with Variety Television, Clear Channel’s TV network.

Providence Equity has $21 billion in 100 companies and is headed up by Jonathan Nelson, a Harvard grad with more than two decades of media property investment under his belt. He sits on the board of Bresnan Communications, MGM, Univision, Warner Music Group, the YET Network and Hulu, the online video join venture of NBC Universal and New Corp.

Clear Channel also has a deal pending to sell its radio station and outdoor ad business to Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital for around $22 billion.