It’s official: iHeartMedia has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, officially reducing its towering debt from $16.1 billion to $5.75 billion.
A separation of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings and iHeart has transpired, and an iHeart IPO now awaits.
Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “CCO.”
In prepared comments released following Wednesday’s Opening Bell on Wall Street, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman said, “We are pleased that iHeartMedia now has a capital structure that matches our exciting operating business. The focused dedication of our employees and the unwavering support of our new owners and advertising partners enabled iHeartMedia to seamlessly complete the restructuring process and reach this final milestone.”
Pittman added that as iHeartMedia enters its “next phase of growth as a multi-platform audio company with a vastly improved financial profile,” it is well-positioned “to continue to innovate and offer cutting-edge technologies, products and services to our audiences and advertisers.”
Pittman also used iHeart’s emergence from debtor-in-possession status to promote its status as America’s largest audio company. Not only is it the No. 1 owner of radio stations, but its iHeartRadio App is perhaps the most ubiquitous among the digital streaming audio choices available from the radio industry — although Entercom’s Radio.com app is quickly gaining users.
Then, there’s podcasting — and iHeart’s growth in this arena was singled out by Pittman.
“Over the past year, we have further cemented our position as the No. 1 commercial podcaster globally – by a strong margin – through building new capabilities and content, including the ‘Ron Burgundy Podcast,’ season two of the true crime podcast ‘Atlanta Monster’ and many more, including ‘Stuff You Should Know,’ the first podcast ever to surpass one billion downloads,” Pittman said.
He added that iHeart, even in bankruptcy, continued to invest in “key areas of the business” with the acquisitions of Stuff Media, which further solidified its leading podcasting position.
There’s also the acquisition of technology company Jelli, the advertising technology platform powering iHeart’s SmartAudio data and analytics offerings.
“We continue to technologically transform our offerings for both consumers, with whom we are interacting more broadly across platforms, and advertisers, to whom we are offering data and analytics solutions previously available only from key digital players,” Pittman said.
Further, Pittman plugged the iHeartRadio Music Awards and its iHeartRadio ALTer Ego events — live concerts that have also helped to establish the iHeartRadio brand as a household name in markets across the U.S.
Pittman concluded, “This is a very exciting time for audio, and iHeartMedia will continue to break new ground and unlock new opportunities across all platforms to reach audiences everywhere.”
With Pittman ensconced in the Chairman/CEO role at Rich Bressler as President/COO and CFO, the “new” iHeart sees the addition to the Board of Directors of Jay Rasulo, Gary Barber, Brad Gerstner, Sean Mahoney and Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal counsel to iHeartMedia.
Moelis & Company served as the company’s investment banker, and Alvarez & Marsal served as the company’s financial advisor.
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