T he largest radio conglomerate in the US, iHeartMedia, became a publicly-traded company again on Thursday, are launching its direct listing. Shares of the company, which just recently emerged from bankruptcy, are listed under the ticker “IHRT” on the NASDAQ.
The stock fell as low as $15.75 in early trading on Thursday, down 7.4%, but close at $16.50 per share (down 2.94%) at market’s close.
iHeart Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Pittman and President, COO and CFO Rich Bressler on hand at the exchange to ring the opening bell. The company had previously indicated that they were weighing raising additional capital with an initial public offering but instead opted to pursue a direct listing on the exchange.
IHeartMedia's return to public trading marks the end of a tumultuous period for that saw iHeartMedia file for bankruptcy in March 2018, paving the way for a restructuring plan that helped the company shed more than $10bn in debt, leaving just $5.75 billion in outstanding financial obligations on the books.
For more than a decade, iHeart struggled to manage its debt load accumulated in a leveraged buyout by private-equity firms Bain Capital Partners LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP in 2008 which left the company saddled with more than $20 billion in debt.
As part of the bankruptcy reorganization, iHeartMedia spun off its outdoor advertising business, but the company is still the largest commercial radio broadcaster in the US, operating 848 broadcast radio stations around the company, as well as a concert promotion business. In 2016, the company also announced it was moving into content streaming and has also made a significant investment this year into their podcasting business.