Clear Channel's Cut And Run

After having its way with the radio industry thanks to consolidation, the Mays family (Lowry, Mark and Randall) will be laughing all the way to the bank as Clear Channel decides to be purchased by Lee Partners and Bain Capital for $18.7 billion. Shareholders will get about $37 a share. The Mays family gets about $1 billion and continued employment as the remnant of the company sometimes referred to in the press as "The Evil Empire" goes private. The Mays reinvest some of their profits in the new entity and if you're cynical enough (or Wall Street savvy), they will be around the next time the company sells (and they'll likely profit again). The Mays' couldn't resist the current buyout trend (Readers Digest, Univision and Tribune to name a few). Consolidation has been good for Clear Channel. Not necessarily so for investors (see separate companion post). If you don't like the deal, it could still fall apart. But if it does, it's likely to be replaced by a better offer. Of course, the principals would make more as they head to the bank. Clear Channel's non-top 100 market stations will be sold. I'm sure they'd like to find one or two groups to buy 448 small market stations and another to buy all of its 42 TV stations. No matter, the sum of its parts is worth more than Clear Channel whole. So was this the end game all along? It often is when companies go public. You buy 'em to sell 'em. The biggest radio/media company of all time cut, hacked, laid-off whatever it could and even with the most dominant position of any broadcasting company ever couldn't make it work -- for it's shareholders, that is. For the masterminds, it's another day in paradise. If you'll allow another phrase from last week's election frenzy, if Clear Channel stayed the course would it be worse? It all sounds like a flip-flop to me.