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iHeartMedia lists on Nasdaq

By | Published on Friday 19 July 2019


US radio giant iHeartMedia returned to the stock market yesterday, bringing to an end a period of turmoil that saw the firm enter bankruptcy in order to instigate a major restructure of the business.

iHeart announced in April that it would likely list on a stock exchange at the conclusion of the restructuring process. Then earlier this month it was confirmed that that would happen via a direct listing onto Nasdaq.

The broadcaster is hoping to now put behind it years of uncertainty that were caused by a massive debt-load which was in turn caused by a stupid ‘leveraged buyout’ of the company back in 2008. Confirming all that, shortly after yesterday’s listing CEO Bob Pittman said: “We’ve had a very good operating business but our capital structure was not in good shape”.

That said, it’s no secret that the radio industry has challenges ahead as internet-based audio services increasingly arrive in places where radio has traditionally dominated, in particular the car, the kitchen and the bathroom.

On the music side, iHeart has already been trying to future-proof itself by moving into the streaming domain with its Pandora-competing iHeartRadio service. Though, of course, it’s also no secret that building a profitable streaming music business is pretty tricky too.

Which is possibly why, in the run up to the direct listing, Pittman has been talking much more about the podcast boom and how his company hopes to capitalise on that, including via its acquisition of podcast firm Stuff Media last year.

According to Wall Street Journal, Pittman said of the podcasting phenomeon yesterday: “Podcast is radio on demand. We’re able to cycle this podcast product into massive reach with broadcast radio – that’s our secret weapon building this company out”.

Despite all that optimism, iHeart’s first day on Nasdaq wasn’t so a big success story, with its share price 3% down by the end of the first day of trading.