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Clear Channel Wins Ruling on $20 Billion Buyout

Clear Channel Communications said on Thursday it had won a ruling from a Texas judge that may advance its efforts to force banks to finance a $20 billion buyout of the U.S. radio operator.

Six banks led by Citigroup were to provide more than $22 billion of financing for the buyout by Bain Capital Partners and Thomas H Lee Partners.

But the private equity firms filed lawsuits in New York and Texas on Wednesday, accusing the banks of backing out of their commitments after capital markets deteriorated.

Clear Channel joined in the Texas lawsuit.

In a statement, Clear Channel said Judge John Gabriel of the Bexar County district court in Texas found on Wednesday night that the company would suffer irreparable harm if the banks refused to fund the merger.

It said the judge issued a temporary order directing the banks not to interfere with the merger by refusing to fund it or demanding new terms.

San Antonio-based Clear Channel did not answer calls seeking comment.

A spokeswoman for Citigroup, which has been speaking on behalf of the bank group, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Other banks in the lending group are Credit Suisse Group, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley , Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Wachovia .

Clear Channel had agreed last May at the height of the private equity boom to be acquired by the private equity firms for $39.20 per share.

Since then, banks have become much less willing to make leveraged loans, many of which have lost value because investors have stopped buying them.

The banking group faced losses of about $3 billion to $4 billion on Clear Channel loans, according to a person familiar with the situation, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak.

Clear Channel shares fell $5.69, or 17.5 percent, to $26.87 on Wednesday, after reports that the buyout was in trouble.

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