Those baby steps iHeartMedia has been taking to wiggle free of bankruptcy became a giant leap today when this nation’s largest owner of radio stations filed plans for an initial public offering.
The news is widely viewed by observers as evidence the company is in the final stages of its restructuring process.
The broadcaster did not disclose the size of the share offering or estimate what the net proceeds from the sale of Class A common stock would be, nor did it set a price range in the filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Committee. The company said it plans to “use net proceeds from this offering to repay indebtedness.”
At the time of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in March 2018, the San Antonio-based company listed $12.3 billion in total assets and $20.3 billion in debt, according to paperwork filed at the time with the SEC.
iHeartMedia will have 848 broadcast radio stations in 160 U.S. markets when it emerges from bankruptcy. It is now top commercial podcast publisher in the United States, according to recent data from Podtrac, with 148 million monthly downloads and streams. In addition, it owns Premiere Networks and Total Traffic & Weather Network.
The broadcaster also reports it has 128 million registered users on its iHeartRadio service and app. The company’s app is available on an expansive range of platforms and devices including digital auto dashes, tablets, wearables, smartphones, virtual assistants, televisions and gaming consoles.
And don’t forget about those smart speakers. “Additionally, we believe we are well-positioned to leverage our iconic brand and enormous reach to benefit from incremental listening growth. As smart speakers are creating an in-home audio hub that enhances radio’s reach, developing a leadership position in this category has become a key element of our growth strategy. Smart speaker adoption has seen rapid acceleration, with a 26% penetration rate among U.S. adults in 2018,” the company said in today’s SEC filing.
iHeartMedia, which also owns Katz Media Group, earlier this year announced it would spin off Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc. as part of its reorganization plan when it was approved in January 2019. The billboard subsidiary will become its own independent publicly traded company.
For the fiscal year 2018, iHeartMedia generated $3.6 billion in revenue according to today’s SEC filing.
iHeart Chairman and CEO Bob Pittman along with President, COO and CFO Rich Bressler will stay on with the company. Following the company’s emergence from bankruptcy, it will have a new board of directors.
Radio World plans to further explore what it means for the radio industry to have its largest ownership group back in better financial position.