Clear Channel may have avoided the oft-predicted bankruptcy filing that some industry corporations were forced to deal with at the end of 2009 but a recent refinancing of an intercompany loan has removed concerns about its short-term liquidity… thus still leaving the company challenged to meet its longer-term debt.
Rueters reports liquidity enhancements from the debt sale, and improving asset coverage for its bank loans, however, may make its lenders more amenable to restructuring its still high debt load, analysts said. Clear Channel said on Monday it sold $2.5 billion in new bonds from its Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO.N) unit, up from an originally planned $750 million, and would use proceeds to repay around $2 billion Clear Channel Outdoor owed its parent. Concerns that the company could breach covenants in the loan and struggle to pay near-term debt maturities had risen ahead of the sale.
A breach of its covenants would have left Clear Channel at the mercy of its lenders, who could have tried to push it into bankruptcy as a means of taking control of the company. Now, “it appears that the company will avoid a year-end leverage covenant violation,” Shelly Lombard, analyst at Gimme
Clear Channel is struggling with billions of dollars in debt after being taken private last July by private equity funds Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital.
“Radio stations will probably never command the amount of advertising they did in the past,” and the company’s earnings aren’t enough to cover its interest expense and capital expenditures, Lombard said.
In addition, many stations were overvalued when the corporations purchased them over the last 10 years and it’s most unfortunate that so many of today radio corporate giants paid so little attention to developing technology in the process. Radio corporations are now forced to run, catch up and jump on the tech bandwagon while they try to find ways to garner revenue and maintain daily operations. 2010 will be, to say the least… interesting.