Radio company Audacy has reached a deal with a supermajority of lenders for a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy deal that will reduce its debt from $1.9 billion to $350 million, the company announced Sunday (Jan. 7). The agreement, first disclosed last week by The Wall Street Journal, will give Audacy’s debt holders equity in the reorganized company.
Chapter 11 proceedings began on Sunday in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. Audacy filed a proposed plan of reorganization that incorporates the terms of the agreement with lenders. The company expects the court to hold a confirmation hearing in February and to exit bankruptcy proceedings once it receives FCC approval.
Some of Audacy’s lenders have committed to providing $57 million in debtor-in-possession financing — $32 million from a term loan and $25 million from an increase in an existing accounts receivable financing facility. The financing, along with the company’s cash from operations, will help Audacy maintain its operations and pay its employees, vendors and partners.
Once the plan is approved by the court, the terms of the current board of directors will expire and a new board of directors will be assigned. The plan of reorganization calls for the new board of directors to adopt a management incentive plan to reward employees and directors of the reorganized company. The plan will set aside 10% of new common stock for stock options, restricted stock, appreciation rights and other equity-based awards.
A 2017 merger with CBS Radio helped Audacy — then named Entercom — expand its business but also increased its debt load. The interest payments would have been more manageable in a growing business, but “the perfect storm of sustained macroeconomic challenges over the past four years facing the traditional advertising market has led to a sharp reduction of several billion dollars in cumulative radio ad spending,” David J. Field, Audacy chairman/president/CEO, said in a statement. “These market factors have severely impacted our financial condition and necessitated our balance sheet restructuring.”
The Philadelphia-based company’s portfolio of about 230 radio stations includes WCBS in New York, KROQ in Los Angeles, WFAN Sports Radio in New York and WBBM Newsradio in Chicago. Audacy’s podcasting brands include two studios, Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, and Popcorn, an online marketplace for connecting creators and brands.
Sunday’s announcement eliminated nearly half of Audacy’s remaining equity value as the company’s share price fell 47.1% to $0.1058 on Monday. Audacy has traded over the counter since it was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in May. A 30-for-1 reverse stock split increased the share price from $0.07 to $2.13 on June 30, but the stock lost nearly all its value over the next six months as financial problems mounted.
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