Oaktree Capital may head to the NYSE


It’s not actually a media IPO. In fact, it’s not even an IPO. But Oaktree Capital, the owner of radio group Townsquare Media, radio syndicator Dial-Global and the broadcast-related company Triton Digital, among many, many other things, may soon be traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Oaktree already has shares trading on a private exchange for institutional investors run by Goldman Sachs. Guess which investment bank will handle the move to the NYSE? Apollo Global Management, a similar investment firm, made its move from the Goldman exchange to the NYSE in March and raised $400 million in an IPO at the same time.

According to the Financial Times, which first reported the potential maneuver, Oaktree has more money under management – around $85 billion – than either KKR or TPG Capital (formerly Texas Pacific Group), but is less well known. It would reportedly seek a higher valuation than Apollo got with its IPO.

Oaktree has excelled in making investments that were out of favor at the time. In radio it unsuccessfully pursued Interep and then bought Regent Communications out of Chapter 11, ultimately creating Townsquare Media. It has a deal pending to also acquire Millennium Radio New Jersey. Over the past few years it also acquired Dial-Global and a variety of advertising rep operations and digital media companies under the umbrella of Triton Digital. Oaktree is also an investor in Liberman Broadcasting.

But, as noted previously, those media ventures are just a tiny part of Oaktree, which was launched as an alternative investment firm in 1995 by Howard Marks and Bruce Karsh. Marsh, whose book “The Most Important Thing” was released this month, is a junk bond pioneer. Karsh is a specialist in distressed assets.

According to the FT report, Oaktree would be valued at $8-9 billion in the move to the NYSE, which apparently would not involve any sale of new shares.

RBR-TVBR observation: Don’t get excited folks. This is not opening the Wall Street window for a broadcasting IPO. Oaktree’s radio investments basically amount to its small change.

Oaktree has mix of radio assets doing various functions and services – for this division to succeed a media platform with one voice is needed.