iHeartMedia Files for Bankruptcy

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The largest U.S. radio company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Wednesday as it struggles to deal with its $20 billion debt pile.

Saddled with $20 billion of debt, iHeartMedia Inc., the largest internet radio broadcaster in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy late on Wednesday. 

In a statement, iHeart said it had ‍reached an agreement with the holders of more than $10 billion of the company's outstanding debt for a balance sheet restructuring, which will reduce its debt by more than $10 billion, effectively cutting it in half. 

“The agreement we announced today is a significant accomplishment, as it allows us to definitively address the more than $20 billion in debt that has burdened our capital structure,” said CEO Bob Pittman. 

The company's huge debt pile is a legacy of its 2008 leveraged buyout. In February, iHeart missed interest payments on its debt as well as two sets of bond payments making bankruptcy all but inevitable. A last-minute deal with Liberty Media, the owner of SiriusXM Radio, that would have seen the company controlled by media mogul John Malone inject $1.16 billion into the group also fell through. 

iHeart currently owns 858 radio stations, including Z100 in New York and Real 103.5 KISS FM in Chicago. The group also includes a digital music streaming service and a live concert venture as well as a 90 percent stake in Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, the billboard advertising company. Clear Channel and its units were not part of the bankruptcy filing.