Clear Channel

The never-ending Dell deal?

August 5, 2013: 1:27 PM ET

icahn-vs-dellPutting the Dell sale in timeline context.

FORTUNE -- The Dell (DELL) buyout seems to have been dragging on forever, but it has a long ways to go before calling the folks at Guinness.

From what I can tell, the longest formal buyout process of all time belongs to Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners' pursuit of Clear Channel Communications.

In that case, Clear Channel announced on Nov. 14, 2006 that it would be acquired by Bain and THL for $37.60 per share (total value of around $18.7 billion).  But the deal did not close until more than 20 months later (July 30, 2008), at a price of $36 per share.

In between were:

  • Shareholder objections that the price was too low.
  • A separate $1 billion deal to sell around 500 radio and TV stations to Providence Equity Partners.
  • An increased offer price of $39.20 per share that was accepted by the company and the lenders.
  • Lenders balking at funding the deal at all, in the wake of a global credit crunch.
  • Bain and THL suing the banks, and reaching a settlement whereby they would fund at $36 per share.

In contrast, it only has been six months since Dell agreed to be taken private. That's twice as long as the famed RJR Nabisco deal -- as memorialized in Barbarians at the Gate -- but so far less than one-third of the Clear Channel saga.

And unless Carl Icahn manages to convince a court that Dell's special committee is improperly in Michael Dell's back pocket -- a tough sell, given that it has successfully extracted a higher price -- then the whole thing should wrap up within one year of the original offer.

An interminable process, to be sure, but we've seen worse...

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