Thursday, 27 March 2008

Battle over Clear Channel

Bain Capital and Thomas H Lee Partners had agreed to acquire Clear Channel as part of a mega buyout funded by a consortium of six banks, including Citigroup. The battle over Clear Channel Communications however escalated today after a US judge issued a temporary order directing six banks not to interfere with the $20 billion (£10 billion) merger by refusing to fund it or demanding new terms.

But the private equity firms are determined to press ahead with the deal and late on Wednesday they filed lawsuits in New York and Texas, accusing the banks of backing out of their commitments.

Clear Channel itself has also joined in the Texas lawsuit.

In a statement, Clear Channel said that Judge John Gabriel, of the Bexar County district court in Texas, on Wednesday night found that the company would suffer irreparable harm if the banks refused to fund the merger. Clear Channel had agreed last May at the height of the private equity boom to be acquired by Bain and Thomas H Lee for $39.20 a share.

Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche, Credit Suisse, Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia had all originally signed up to back the deal. Under the original plans, the six banks were to fund $16 billion (£8 billion) of new debt to take Clear Channel private. (source: Timesonline)

The luxury UK-based brands Jaguar & Land Rover owned by Ford have been sold to Tata the Indian company owned by billionaire Ratan Tata. Tata, India's biggest vehicle maker, is paying $2.3 billion (£1.15 billion) for the British brands after months of negotiations over price and supply relationships.

Although Land Rover remains profitable, Ford has never managed to make money from its investment in Jaguar. Ford has been forced to sell the two companies, based at Solihull and Castle Bromwich in the West Midlands and Halewood on Merseyside, in order to concentrate on its loss-making core US car business, which it hopes to turn around in the next two years.

The $2.3 billion price tag is about half the amount Ford originally paid leading some analysts to argue that the purchase was a mistake. Ford sold its iconic Aston Martin brand to a UK-led investment consortium in a deal worth $955.2 million (£482.4 million) last year. (source: BBC News)

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