iHeartMedia face bankruptcy but rivals’ investor Liberty Media could save them

iHeartRadio are facing financial breakdown but the investor coming to save the day has stakes in some of their biggest rivals.

Radio streaming service iHeartRadio are facing trouble with debt and are looking to consolidate it any way possible to avoid bankruptcy. That could mean a sale of assets to Liberty Media who also have investments in other music streamers including a majority in SiriusXM and a $480 million stake in direct radio streaming competitor Pandora.

Latest reports suggest that iHeartMedia could go bankrupt as early as today after missing an interest payment to their creditors recently. Whilst Liberty Media have offered to buy a 40% stake in them for $1.16 billion. According to Billboard last week, half of these shares would be held by SiriusXM and the other half directly controlled by Liberty Media. Creditors have reportedly rejected the terms from Liberty Media however talks are still ongoing.

iHeartMedia’s financial struggles go back years, making a loss of $300 million in 2016 with $1.8 billion in debt payments. They were bought by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners back in 2008 when they were still Clear Channel. The investors financed the $20 billion deal with loans that equal 9x the company’s pre-tax cash flow. In 2013 the federal government set a limit of 6x leverage, 50% less than their deal made 5 years earlier.

Bloomberg reported that Liberty have already bought “a substantial position in iHeart debt and sees potential synergies between iHeart and SiriusXM radio” according to CEO Greg Maffei. If their debt is bought by Liberty Media it will be interesting to see how the dynamic plays out with investment in iHeartRadio and Pandora radio, both massive players in music streaming that specialise in radio-based stations of music.

We will have to wait and see this week how iHeartMedia’s debt consolidation works out and whether Liberty hold the solution.

Head of Social Media and Marketing, RouteNote

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