Broadcaster iHeartMedia Files for Bankruptcy
The largest radio company in the United States has filed for bankruptcy.
The Hollywood Reporter brings official word of the latest chapter in the ongoing financial woes that have hampered iHeartMedia over the past decade, reporting that the company has filed for bankruptcy protection in order to try and secure some relief from an excess of $20 billion in debt on its balance sheets.
"The agreement we announced today is a significant accomplishment," iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman is quoted as describing the move, which will reportedly clear more than half of that staggering sum. "It allows us to definitively address the more than $20 billion in debt that has burdened our capital structure."
As THR notes, iHeartMedia's debt struggle has its roots in a familiar story — the company was the target of a leveraged buyout in 2008, when it was purchased for more than $17 billion by a pair of private equity firms. Six banks ultimately ended up financing the deal, which faced multiple lawsuits and the hurdles of an increasingly hostile credit marketplace — and as the debt incurred in the deal has matured, iHeartMedia execs have pursued a number of options, all to no avail.
At stake is a broadcasting empire that includes more than 850 radio stations as well as a digital streaming service and a live music division — and although the company has yet to find a reliable lifeline out of trouble, it certainly isn't without potential suitors. Among them are B.J. “Red” McCombs and L. Lowry Mays, who partnered to build up iHeartMedia back when it was still known as Clear Channel. McCombs signaled his interest late last year, saying, "It depends on what the price goes to. ... I might make a play for it. In a heartbeat, I would go back into a venture with the Mays family in radio."