Radio giant Audacy files for chapter 11 bankruptcy, as ad sales plunge

Radio and podcast giant Audacy Inc. filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday amid a cratering advertising market.

Philadelphia-based Audacy
AUDA,
+5.50%
announced a “comprehensive restructuring” Sunday, seeking to reduce about 80% of its $1.9 billion of debt, to roughly $350 million.

“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,” Audacy Chief Executive David J. Field said in a statement. “These market factors have severely impacted our financial condition and necessitated our balance-sheet restructuring.”

The company said a supermajority of creditors had approved the reorganization plan, allowing Audacy to file a prepackaged bankruptcy process, aimed at speeding the process.

Audacy picked up most of its debt after its merger with CBS Radio in 2017. It owns hundreds of radio stations across the U.S., including WFAN and WINS in New York, KROQ in Los Angeles and KCBS in San Francisco.

The company said it expects its bankruptcy plan to be considered in court in February, and plans to emerge from bankruptcy after obtaining approval by the Federal Communications Commission. Audacy said it expects to operate normally through the process.

Audacy shares were delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in November, and are now traded over the counter. The stock has sunk 97% over the past 12 months, closing Friday at 19 cents, for a market cap of about $946 million.

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