Apr 3, 2019

Radio broadcaster iHeartMedia files for IPO in bid to exit bankruptcy

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata

iHeartMedia, the country's largest commercial radio broadcaster, has filed for an initial public offering.

Why it matters: This is the latest chapter in a complex corporate saga that began when iHeart (then known as Clear Channel) was acquired in 2006 for $18.7 billion. That deal was so contentious that the private equity sponsors Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners had to sue their lenders to get the deal closed, but then the whole thing ended up collapsing under a wall of debt.

  • iHeart last year filed for bankruptcy and agreed to spin off its outdoor advertising business as part of a debt restructuring. This IPO is part of the core company's plan to exit bankruptcy.

Details: Not too many yet, as the San Antonio-based company only put a $100 million placeholder figure on its S-1 filing. But we do know it plans to have a dual-class share structure, and reports a pro forma $38 million net loss on $3.8 billion in revenue for 2018.

The bottom line, from Axios' Sara Fischer: "iHeart now has the flexibility to focus operations more seriously around streaming audio and podcast advertising, some of the fastest-growing ad segments. Its advantage is that is has a massive terrestrial radio footprint to market those efforts, but it had been inhibited by the former debt load."

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