Is Silver Lake Seriously Looking At iHeart?


By Noon on Friday, a report in the New York Post that private equity firm Silver Lake Partners “has recently shown interest in buying the bankrupt iHeartMedia” was being widely distributed among radio industry cognoscenti.

If it’s true, it would put a “Silicon Valley deal pioneer” that The Wall Street Journal labeled a “predator” for its backing of a hostile bid for Qualcomm in the driver’s seat at the No. 1 radio broadcasting company in the U.S.

The Post based its report on “two sources familiar with the situation” who claim iHeart creditors are talking with Silver Lake. If Silver Lake were to swoop in and make an offer, it could look to link up with arena venue manager Oak View Group, the Post hypothesizes.

Such an idea was a big part of Townsquare Media‘s growth efforts under its former CEO, Steven Price. The live event segment of Townsquare proved to be much riskier and, ultimately, costlier than its core radio and local digital media business.

However, iHeart has an equity stake in Oak View, obtained earlier in 2018.

Still, longtime industry executives will instantly bring up iHeart predecessor Clear Channel’s ownership of SFX Entertainment in the early 2000s. In 2005, a spin-off was completed; the entity is now Live Nation.

Former Live Nation head Irving Azoff happens to run Oak View.

If Silver Lake is to get a controlling interest in iHeart, it would put iHeart in company with chip maker Broadcom. How? Silver Lake in December 2017 pledged $5 billion in convertible debt to back Broadcom’s $105 billion hostile takeover offer of Qualcomm.

In a Dec. 15, 2017 report, the Journal described Silver Lake as a “buyout shop” with $39 billion in assets that has emerged as one of the largest players in technology investing. Dell Technologies and Symantec are among Silver Lake’s investments.

Among Silver Lake’s entertainment partners are the UFC.