iHeart Making Moves Behind The Scenes
Things have been pretty quiet at iHeart over the last few months as company execs work through their Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. However, recently there have been some signs of life in the company’s court filings. It looks like iHeart is shooting for a Jan 1, 2019 target to emerge from bankruptcy. When it does the broadcaster will still be carrying about $10B in debt, but that’s half the $20B+ pre-bankruptcy total. It also looks like iHeart is lowering investor expectations about the health of its core broadcast business. In an unheard of move (for them) the company is forecasting 3-4% annual revenue declines for its spot business from 2019-2022. That’s not exactly a firm business footing to come out of bankruptcy with.
So if iHeart’s forecasting its broadcast biz to decline how will they get back on a growth track? One clue might be a mysterious reference about their plans to purchase an unnamed company. The filing is heavily redacted, so we can’t see who the company is or the purchase price – maybe you can figure it out in the image below. They do reference a “fast-growing (blank) market”. You’ve gotta figure the missing word is that sentence is digital, streaming, programmatic, or similar, right? While there’s no telling what iHeart’s exact plans are, it makes sense that they’d use the bankruptcy restructuring to pivot into a digital-centric business model. I guess we’ll find out what this all means on or around January 1st.