Texas Pacific Group has withdrawn from the bidding for radio broadcaster Clear Channel Communications Inc. in an auction that may fetch about $18 billion, two people briefed on the firm's decision said Wednesday.
The withdrawal left Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners to submit an offer together before Tuesday's deadline for bids, said the people, who declined to be identified.
Blackstone Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Providence Equity Partners Inc. made a competing offer for Clear Channel, the largest U.S. owner of radio stations.
The last-minute change may give a boost to the Blackstone team, which was already considered the front-runner because it had initiated buyout talks with San Antonio-based Clear Channel.
After those discussions surfaced publicly last month, the Bain-Thomas H. Lee group had less than three weeks to prepare a proposal.
"The guys from Texas Pacific obviously just didn't believe the growth rate was as high as the guys at Bain Capital and Thomas Lee," said David Miller, an analyst at Sanders Morris Harris Inc. in Los Angeles, who has a "hold" rating on Clear Channel shares.
Owen Blicksilver, a spokesman for Fort Worth-based Texas Pacific, declined to comment, as did representatives of the other private equity firms. A Clear Channel spokeswoman did not return a call for comment.
Shares of Clear Channel rose 1 cent to $34.12.