IHeartMedia, the nation's largest USA radio station owner, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today. Thanks to a new in-principle agreement with creditors, the company has hopes of reducing its debt by more than $10 billion. "Achieving a capital structure that finally matches our impressive operating business will further enhance iHeartMedia's position as America's No. 1 audio company".
iHeart's CEO Bob Pittman said last night: "iHeartMedia has created a highly successful operating business, generating year-over-year revenue growth in each of the last eighteen consecutive quarters". Aided by a relaxed federal regulations, Clear Channel's founding Mays family led the firm through a radio-station buying spree in the '90s and early 2000s, at one point controlling 1,100 properties.
In addition to radio stations, concerts and the iHeartRadio app, iHeartMedia owns Clear Channel Outdoor, a billboard company that's not included in the debt restructuring deal.
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Lance Vitanza, an analyst at Cowen, said that iHeartMedia had done better than most radio companies in expanding its audience and adapting to new technologies, but that debt had weighed it down - a burden that could find relief through the bankruptcy process.
Its most recent proposal would have given holders of secured loans, who are owed almost $13 billion, about $5.6 billion in new debt and 94 percent of the equity in a reorganized iHeartMedia.
"They're not shutting down", Crystall said. When it seemed those court cases weren't going to be ruled in their favor, they all reached a settlement in May 2008. In public term sheets, the equity holders offered a pre-packaged bankruptcy under which the creditors would get 89.5% of the equity. It would also have to avoid making "exorbitant interest payments".
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Shares of iHeartMedia lost three-quarters of their value in the second half of 2015 and have never recovered since then.
Ocean Outdoor recently announced it is set to float on the London stock market and another DOOH owner, 8 Outdoor, has taken Asian investment.
The IHeartMedia bankruptcy will certainly have ripples here in the Tennessee Valley.
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