Just days after exiting the COO position at LBI Media, Winter Horton quickly resurfaced across town — as Chief Operations Officer of Meruelo Media.
Now, LBI has a new CEO and COO, as it has successfully completed its court-approved reorganization plan and emerged from the chapter 11 process on Tuesday.
With support from its creditors, including HPS Investment Partners, on behalf of the investment funds and accounts it manages or advises, who sponsored the plan of reorganization, LBI Media eliminated more than $350 million of debt from its balance sheet and made significant recoveries available to its trade and general unsecured creditors.
It also quietly made a very significant change at the top, appointing Peter Markham to the CEO role.
In a concurrent announcement, LBI Media confirmed that CFO Brian Kei is adding COO stripes.
The LBI Media corporate website already reflects the change, noting that Markham, a member of the company’s Board of Directors, previously served as interim Chief Operating Officer.
While Horton’s exit was the subject of several market rumors, so was the stripping of CEO duties from Lenard Liberman.
Liberman founded what was originally called Liberman Broadcasting with his father, Jose Liberman, in 1987 after graduating from Stanford University with a JD/MBA. While this was his first business partnership with his father, he had for many years operated a mail order business directed to the Hispanic market and through that company advertised extensively on Spanish-language radio and television stations across the US.
This served as a primer for a career in Hispanic media that included station-level roles as GSM and GM. He also served as CFO for LBI Media for a period, and in 1998 guided the company into television ownership, setting the stage for what is today Estrella TV — a network with owned-and-operated stations in markets including Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston
Now, Lenard Liberman’s role is seemingly that of co-founder, as Markham is now overseeing all company operations across LBI Media’s television, radio, production and digital assets.
In addition to Estrella TV, LBI Media owns Fenomeno Studios, “the first Spanish-language Multiplatform Network (MPN) in the U.S.” It was launched in 2015. It also owns and operates 17 radio stations across the U.S.
“LBI Media has a terrific group of assets with exceptional potential,” Markham said on Tuesday afternoon from the company’s Empire Center headquarters in Burbank, Calif. “Completion of LBI’s financial restructuring provides a strong financial foundation and significant flexibility to grow the business. The ownership team is committed to the long-term success of LBI Media and the continued expansion of its platform targeted to the growing U.S. Hispanic market.”
Markham thanked José and Lenard Liberman, “pioneers in Hispanic broadcasting,” for their vision and leadership during the past 30 years and for LBI Media’s “talented and committed employees who ensured our operations continued as usual during the restructuring process.” He added that LBI Media moves forward “well positioned for the future and with the resources to pursue new opportunities.”
Markham is perhaps best-known for his run as Chairman/CEO of TV station owner Granite Broadcasting from August 2009 through December 2015.
His experience at Granite could prove very meaningful for LBI Media: After completing a financial restructuring and operational turn-around, Granite as of August 2017 realized asset sales of approximately $450 million for its private equity sponsors, Silver Point Capital and GoldenTree Asset Management, and other minority shareholders.
Markham is also no stranger to Hispanic media, as he served from January 2015 through July 2018 as a Board Director at R Communications, which operates in South Texas. The company is backed by Atalaya Capital Management.
Prior to these roles, Markham made his mark as Executive Chairman of Communications Corporation of America. And, from April 2006-January 2010, he was head of TMT & European Coverage at Silver Point Capital.
Before that, from January 2004-January 2007, he served as a Strategic Advisory Board Member for Madison Square Garden Media Networks.
Kei has served as Chief Financial Officer of LBI Media since 2018 and was previously Vice President of Finance & Strategy at Disney ABC Television Group where he managed global financial and operations teams.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP served as legal counsel. Guggenheim Securities served as investment banker, and Alvarez & Marsal served as financial advisor in connection with LBI’s financial restructuring.
Wiley Rein LLP served as regulatory counsel to LBI Media.