Cumulus Take-Private Deal Falls Through; Stock Off Over 20 Percent


While the Clear Channel mess gets dealt with in court, the deal to take radio operator Cumulus Media private has collapsed. Shares of the company are off over 20 percent today after it announced that its would-be acquirers — the company’s own CEO Lew Dickey and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity — could not complete the deal. Cumulus shareholders will receive a $15 million breakup fee. Note that this is different what’s going in with Clear Channel (NYSE: CCU). In that case, it’s the financing banks that are kicking and screaming to avoid funding the buy — the actual acquiring firms, Bain and Thomas H. Lee, are pressing full-steam ahead. Release

A question that shareholders might be wondering about: Was the agreement to amicably drop the deal made easier by the fact that CEO Lew Dickey was on both sides of the transaction? After all, in some cases, companies have gone to court to prevent the acquirer from walking away.

In the announcement, Cumulus says it will explore the possibility of a share buyback program to provide shareholders with “liquidity” though it offers no guarantee that it will do so. That’s a big gap between first prize and the consolation.

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