The nation’s largest radio broadcaster is set to return to the public markets Thursday, capping iHeartMedia Inc.’s long journey through bankruptcy.
Shares are slated to be listed under the ticker “IHRT” on the Nasdaq, reports The Wall Street Journal.
A bankruptcy judge in January approved a restructuring plan wiping more than $10 billion in debt off of iHM’s books and turning over control of the company to lenders and bondholders from its longtime owners, the private-equity firms Bain Capital Partners LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP.
iHM emerged from restructuring May 1.
Last month the San Antonio-based company, which had said it was evaluating options for a public stock offering, said it instead decided to list its shares on the Nasdaq without raising more money, similar to what is known as a direct listing. Even without raising additional funds, iHM said it expects to benefit from having a publicly traded stock, which provides greater flexibility for investors and could be a source of additional capital for the company in the future.
The restructuring plan, which reduced iHM’s debt load to $5.75 billion from $16.1 billion, transferred ownership of the company to a group of lenders and bondholders led by Franklin Advisers Inc. Chief Executive Bob Pittman and finance chief Rich Bressler remain in their roles.
Bain and Thomas H. Lee had controlled the company, previously known as Clear Channel Communications, since one of the biggest leveraged buyouts on the eve of the 2008 financial crisis, saddling the company with most of the some $20 billion in debt it juggled over the next decade.
iHM, which operates 848 broadcast radio stations in the U.S., also runs a concert-promotion business and has been in the on-demand streaming-music market since 2016, when it launched a pair of services within its existing iHeartRadio app, which had previously just played programming from the broadcast stations.
The company has also expanded into podcasting, including last year’s purchase of Stuff Media LLC, in a bet on the small but growing medium that has attracted younger, engaged audiences, and rapidly increasing advertising revenue. iHeartRadio is the second-largest podcast publisher, behind National Public Radio, according to Podtrac.