iHeartRadio Faces Imminent Bankruptcy as Debt Pile Hits $20 Billion

iHeartRadio Faces Imminent Bankruptcy as Debt Pile Hits $20 Billion
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As predicted, iHeartRadio is about to crash into a messy bankruptcy.

Early last year, Digital Music News ran a controversial story.

A group of iHeartRadio’s lenders had opposed a $20 billion debt overhaul.  With the company adding nearly $350 million in debt last year, the product of a leveraged 2008 buyout, and another $8.3 billion more coming in 2019, DMN wrote that in 2018, iHeartRadio would go bankrupt.

Looks like we were right.

With the company still $20 billion in debt, iHeartMedia has circulated documents for a bankruptcy filing.  According to multiple sources, the filing will come as soon as this weekend.

Speaking with the Chicago Tribune, advisers to iHeart’s senior creditors claim to have seen the bankruptcy papers.  The company will reportedly use them on the first day of court proceedings.  Despite spending a year in negotiation talks with creditors, iHeart doesn’t have a formal support agreement in place yet.

In recent weeks, the company has frantically swapped multiple proposals with creditors.  Yet, amidst mounting financial pressure, iHeart has missed payments on two sets of bonds.  It most recently missed a payment on February 1st, with the 30-day grace period set to expire.

Liberty Media, already a significant owner of iHeart’s debt, had offered to help the company with a cash injection.  According to Bloomberg, the company’s creditors rejected the offer as too low.  Liberty Media would have invested $1.16 billion, acquiring 40% of the company in the process.

As iHeart prepares to file for bankruptcy, don’t expect the company’s top executives to feel the burn.

While iHeart warned last year that it might not meet payments, executives may still receive millions in bonuses.  That includes CEO Bob Pittman, COO Richard Bressler, and General Counsel Robert Walls.

In the past 2 years, Pittman, the former COO of American Online and AOL Time Warner, reportedly received $500,000 — twice — in bonuses.  This year, Pittman remains eligible to receive $2.325 million for each calendar quarter of 2018.  Bressler is eligible for $1.325 million as well.

Sounds like a great deal.  And it makes you wonder: what the bonuses are for not running a company into the ground?


Featured image by Nick Youngson (CC by 3.0)

6 Responses

  1. Remi Swierczek

    Unless they convert themself to simple discovery based music store!

    Just unite confused labels and mega stars to get new FAIR USE ACT that will lock Google and few other corporate monsters away from music.

  2. Phil Angelino

    this story is was outdated before it was published. A ‘forebearance’ was signed Sunday, giving iHeart until 3/7 to figure out another option. it even alludes to something happening over “the weekend” above, but this was posted on a Monday.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Well, iHeart is headed towards bankruptcy. It’s just a matter of how they manage to negotiate the billions in debt. Remember creditors want to maximize their chances of getting paid back, even if it’s at 50 cents to the dollar. 0 cents on the dollar is a lot worse (actually, there’s even worse than that, but…)

      We’ll have an update on the latest negotiations.

  3. Elizabeth de Moya

    They play the same 40 songs over and over again. It’s complete insanity. And then you tell them hey this is what you’re doing wrong and they just stare at you blankly, like well that’s not what my boss told me. Because that’s the company culture they have developed in radio. You have to agree with everyone all the time. I can’t even listen to it because it’s all commercials and the same songs from over 20 years ago.

  4. Ryan