UPDATE: On Sunday (Jan. 7), Audacy said it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to reduce the company’s debts. The radio giant said in a statement that the deal with debt holders will reduce its debt load by about 80%, from $1.9 billion to $350 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Audacy does not expect any operational impact due to the bankruptcy and restructuring.
Audacy is expected to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after reaching an agreement with its lenders, according to a report at the Wall Street Journal. The prepackaged bankrupcy would be financed by the lenders, who would take ownership of the radio company following the restructuring, the report said.
An Audacy spokesperson had no comment when contacted by Billboard.
Audacy, formerly named Entercom, is saddled by $2 billion in debt acquired primarily from its 2017 merger with CBS Radio. That deal expanded Audacy’s revenue but also increased its debt nearly fourfold from $468 million at the end of 2016 to $1.86 billion at the end of 2017.
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.
The company sounded alarm bells in May when it warned that a weak financial outlook could cause it to default on its debt. In an SEC filing, the company said “macroeconomic conditions” such as rising interest rates and depressed advertising revenue “have created, and may continue to create, significant uncertainty in operations.” As a result, its forecasted revenue was “unlikely to be sufficient” to maintain its debt covenants.
Third-quarter revenue of $299.2 million was down 5.6% year over year and in early November its fourth-quarter revenue was on pace to decline 9% from the prior-year period. Noting the company’s “current challenges,” CEO David J. Field said Audacy was in conversation with its lenders to recapitalize its balance sheet.
In recent months, Audacy has reached agreements with a number of lenders to extend the grace periods for interest payments from a credit facility and outstanding notes.
Audacy was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange the May for violating the exchange’s rules on minimum share price. It has since traded over the counter. Although a 30-for-1 reverse stock split increased the share price from $0.07 to $2.13 on June 30, the stock lost nearly all its value over the next six months.
On Thursday, Audacy shares closed at $0.1896 per share, giving the company a market capitalization of less than $900,000.