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Clear Channel Delays Vote On Buyout Offer As It Considers Revised Bid

Clear Channel Communicationssaid on Monday it was delaying a shareholder vote on a $19.6 billion buyout proposed by two private equity firms, as it considers a revised offer by the firms last week.

It is delaying the vote, scheduled for Tuesday, to May 22.

Clear Channel originally rejected the $19.6 billion, or $39.20 per share, bid made last week, arguing that acceptance would delay the date of the meeting by up to 90 days, with no certainty the transaction would be approved by shareholders.

The bidders, Bain Capital Partners and Thomas H. Lee Partners, previously offered $39 a share.

But shareholders have since been pressuring Clear Channel to reconsider its decision, with several stockowners telling Reuters they had called the company's board to persuade them to delay the vote.

While the new bid appeared to gain more shareholder support, it was unclear whether it would gather enough to succeed.

The deal faces a difficult hurdle because under Texas law two-thirds of the company's shares must approve the transaction. Shareholders who fail to vote are counted as voting against the deal.

The revised structure had been supported by Highfields Capital Management LP, a significant shareholder that originally opposed the bid, sources told Reuters last week.

However it was still unclear whether Fidelity Investments, a major shareholder that has steadfastly opposed the sale, would support the new bid.

Fidelity was not immediately available for comment, although a source close to the mutual fund firm familiar with the situation said on Friday it would still oppose a bid at $39.20.

Opposition from Fidelity and Highfields as well as from proxy advisory service ISS to the original deal had dealt a large blow to the prospects of getting it through a vote.