Radio One is expected to acquire 20 stations

Clear Channel focus of a $1 billion deal

Broadcasting

March 10, 2000|By Mark Ribbing | Mark Ribbing,SUN STAFF

Radio One Inc., a Lanham broadcaster targeting urban African-American audiences, is expected to buy about $1 billion worth of stations from Clear Channel Communications Inc. An announcement could come as soon as Monday, analysts said.

The acquisition would bolster Radio One's standing as the biggest player in the urban-format radio market. Radio One owns 27 stations, including two of Baltimore's top-rated stations, WERQ-FM and WWIN-FM.

Analysts said the rumored deal with Clear Channel would bring Radio One about 20 new stations.

"We've been in hot pursuit of a large amount of the Clear Channel [station] divestitures and feel highly confident we will be a winner in the process," said Alfred C. Liggins III, Radio One president, chief executive officer and treasurer. Liggins declined to comment on the analysts' speculation.

Radio One filed recently for a public offering of 5 million shares of stock, a sale that is expected to raise $397 million. The company said it would use part of the proceeds to buy new stations.

"They want to get bigger," said Harry J. DeMott, an analyst with Credit Suisse First Boston. "They want to become the unassailable dominant presence in African-American broadcasting."

Clear Channel, the nation's largest station owner, is selling more than 100 stations to help ensure regulatory approval for its $16.6 billion acquisition of the industry's No. 2 company, AMFM Inc.

A major station sale to minority-owned Radio One also could help Clear Channel gain support at the Federal Communications Commission, which has sought to increase the racial diversity of ownership. Even after making the required station sales, Clear Channel will have 830 stations nationwide.

Radio One shares gained $2.9375 yesterday to close at $60. Clear Channel was up $4.875, finishing at $65.

Bloomberg News contributed to this article.

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