For the international contemporary live music industry

Former Live Nation creator fights $20 billion debt burden

World News
April 24, 2018

The company that paid now bankrupt financier Robert FX Sillerman $4.4 billion for his first SFX Entertainment – a roll-up of promoters and venues across North America and Europe – and spawned Live Nation, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on 14 March.

Then called Clear Channel Communications (CCC) and renamed iHeartMedia in 2014, it is the largest radio station operator in the US.

Based in San Antonio, Texas, the company reached a restructuring agreement with creditors for $10bn of its more than $20bn debt.

Day-to-day operations at iHeartMedia’s 858 radio stations will continue as the business while it restructures. Its billboards division, Clear Channel Outdoor, was not part of the filing.

Itss festival, iHeartCountry (cap. 16,800), featuring Luke Bryan and Keith Urban, is still scheduled to take place in May in Austin, Texas, as is iHeartRadio Music Festival (20,000) in Las Vegas in September, featuring Coldplay and The Weeknd.

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

CCC was acquired by private equity firms Bain Capital and Thomas H Lee Partners in 2008, in a $17.9bn loan-based buyout that left the company with more than $20bn of debt.

In the late-‘90s, Sillerman rolled-up a fragmented live music business, buying multiple promoters and venues and selling the package to CCC in 2000 (see Audience issues 1 & 2). CCC formed Clear Channel Entertainment to handle the sector, spinning it off as Live Nation in 2005, with debts of around $750 million.

Live Nation merged with Ticketmaster in 2010 to form Live Nation Entertainment, with a combined debt of around $1.5bn, since risen to more than $2.2bn (see Audience issue 218).

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