iHeartRadio parent iHeartMedia Inc. is back on the ropes.
The biggest operator of radio stations in the U.S. is having a hard time persuading creditors to get on board with exchange offers covering some $14 billion in debt it badly needs to refinance. On Thursday, the company extended the offers for a fifth time, as it became apparent that some who were previously willing to participate are now backing out of the deal.
iHeartMedia IHRT, -20.09% , which also owns billboard advertising company Clear Channel Outdoors, said just $47.1 million of notes, equal to 0.6% of the outstanding amount, had been tendered as of 5 p.m. on May 24. That’s less than the $86.7 million that the company previously said had been tendered as of May 11.
The deadline for the exchange offers has now been pushed back to June 9 from May 26. The company will use the extra time to continue talks with lenders under two term loan facilities and the holders of its bonds.
“Right now, it’s a game of chicken,” said Chuck Tatelbaum, international bankruptcy expert and senior attorney at the Tripp Scott law firm. “The debtholders are waiting to see who will blink first.”
iHeartMedia is struggling with a $20 billion debt burden it took on as part of a $24 billion leveraged buyout of then–Clear Channel Communications Inc. by private-equity firms Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners in 2008. The company is trying to persuade its creditors to accept a series of exchange offers that would allow it to refinance more than $14 billion in term loans and other debt, offering new debt, equity and ownership in Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings.
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