Thursday, February 11, 2021

Brits Acquire Stake In iHeartMedia For $117.6M

Michael Tabor, the investment mogul behind the British radio and outdoor media group Global, has taken a stake of almost 9% in its bigger US audio rival, iHeartMedia, in a surprise move.

According to the Campign Live website, a U-S stock market filing shows Tabor is the “beneficiary” of a trust that owns Honeycomb Investments, which spent $117.6M to acquire the 8.8% investment in iHeartMedia at the end of January.

Tabor, who has made his fortune through bookmaking and investments, is listed as a citizen of the United Kingdom. 

A spokesperson for Honeycomb Investments confirmed the share purchase to Campaign, saying it was “pleased to be able to have acquired this stake in a sector that it knows well”. 

iHeartMedia is the biggest commercial radio operator in the US, with 850 stations in 160 markets and revenues of $3.68B in 2019, according to its most recent annual results.

That is roughly three times the size of Global Media & Entertainment, the UK parent company of Global, which is the biggest media owner in commercial radio and second biggest in outdoor in the UK.

Both companies have said in their financial results that revenues have fallen because of Covid-19.

iHeartMedia has had historic debt problems but restructured its finances in 2019 as part of a Chapter 11 process, slashing its debt from $16.1bn to $5.75bn and separating itself from outdoor business, Clear Channel, which is now an independent company.

iHM took another step that made itself potentially more attractive to investors in November 2020 when it said it had received authorization from the Federal Communications Commission, the US communications regulator, that allows the company to increase “foreign ownership” to up to 100% of its shares.

It is understood there are other FCC limitations on foreign ownership, which means individual investors still need regulatory approval for significant shareholdings.

iHeartMedia has yet to comment on Tabor’s share purchase.

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