IHeartRadio bankruptcy: iHeartMedia, owner of 850 radio stations, files for Ch. 11

Posted March 16, 2018

The San Antonio-based company is the largest radio station group owner in the U.S., overseeing more than 850 terrestrial radio stations. It has been struggling to get out from under a massive debt load it took on as part of a leveraged buyout of billboard company Clear Channel Outdoor in 2008.

On Thursday, iHeartMedia Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection as the largest radio station owner in the USA was able to reach an agreement with its creditors for the restructuring of its huge debt load.

It's unclear if a DIP loan is needed because the Chapter 11 announcement didn't provide any details mentioning one, but did say that the company believes that its cash on hand and cash generated from operations to sufficiently fund iHeart during the Chapter 11 proceedings.

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The company came to terms with its senior lenders just hours before filing for bankruptcy, company treasurer Brian Coleman said in court papers filed Thursday. And both companies are trying to restructure their debt.

In the years that followed, the operator of 849 radio stations has faced intensifying competition for advertisers and listeners from internet platforms such as music streaming services.

The San Antonio-based company used to be called Clear Channel.

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The filing comes after John Malone's Liberty Media Corp proposed on February 26 a deal to buy a 40 percent stake in a restructured iHeartMedia for $1.16 billion, uniting the company with Liberty's Sirius XM Holdings Inc satellite radio service.

That debt obscures iHeart's transformation from "a traditional radio company into a true 21 century multi-platform, data-driven, digitally-focused media and entertainment powerhouse", according to Pitman. "Achieving a capital structure that finally matches our impressive operating business will further enhance iHeartMedia's position as America's #1 audio company", said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Pittman in the release.

About 265 million people in the US still tune in to iHeart's stations at least once a month, but newer media such as Spotify's streaming service and SiriusXM's satellite broadcasts have cut into the audience and put a damper on sales.

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Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital LLC control 68% of the iHeartMedia voting stock shows a recent annual report.