400 out at new Clear Channel

Clear Channel Communications, the world's largest radio company, last week acknowledged that it is laying off 400 employees. That's less than 2% of the San Antonio-based firm's worldwide work force of some 22,000 to 24,000 employees, Clear Channel spokesman Randy Palmer says. The dismissals come on the heels of Clear Channel's $23.8 billion merger with AMFM.

"This is not something that should come as a surprise to anybody," Palmer says. "We had duplicative employees here and at AMFM." Both Clear Channel and AMFM employees have been laid off, he says.

About two-thirds of the layoffs have been completed, with the process to conclude by March 31. Because the process began this past spring, some employees got a year's notice, Palmer says. He declines to disclose names of dismissed employees but says senior managers are included. For example, of the combined companies' 18 to 20 regional managers, Clear Channel decided it needed just a dozen or so, Palmer says.

Among the top managers reportedly laid off is AMFM CFO D. Geoffrey Armstrong. He could not be reached for comment last Thursday.

Radio-station employees are not among those to be laid off, Palmer says. Most of those who lost their jobs are managers in marketing and accounting at AMFM's corporate offices in Austin, Texas, and its Dallas headquarters, both of which will be closed.

Severance so far has cost $185 million, according to Clear Channel's Nov. 14 filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. However, Palmer says that figure includes such expenses as the cost of breaking leases and closing buildings. Capital expenditures in the first nine months of the year totaled $114.3 million, the filing says, spent largely on "facility consolidations."

But AMFM spent plenty on such costs before the merger closed on Aug. 30. In the first six months of the year, AMFM spent $15.2 million on the merger, including $5.3 million in severance for former AMFM Co-Vice Chairman James E. de Castro and $4 million to "terminate" other employees and close facilities, according to AMFM filings at the SEC.