Rumor Fact(ory): Liberty Media may be interested in acquiring iHeartMedia

iHeartMedia is in the process of restructuring after a strategic move of declaring bankruptcy in March. Despite several years of financial difficulties, the company still has such a large footprint in broadcasting and audio that it has been the subject of takeover rumors. First, Apple was allegedly engaging in talks with the media conglomerate. Now, Liberty Media is reportedly interested as well.

The New York Post reports that Liberty Media, parent company of Sirius XM, is angling to acquire iHeartMedia when it exits bankruptcy early in 2019. Sources told the post that Liberty is in talks with the iHeart creditors to land a stake of about 35% in the media company.

iHeartMedia is currently moving forward with a restructuring plan that would cut its debt load by two-thirds and would return the company to public trading in February. Even though that doesn’t leave much time to broker a deal, Liberty Media has publicly been playing coy about the possibility of securing more of iHeart. It does have an existing stake and bought some of the iHeart debt load earlier this year.

“I just don’t think at this time we’re going to be increasing our stake,” President and CEO Greg Maffei said in an investor call on November 14.

A protracted back-and-forth seems to be Liberty Media’s standard operating procedure. That’s the approach it took before Sirius XM finally made the final move to acquire Pandora in September 2018. Plus, if Apple truly is interested in making overtures to iHeartMedia, the tech company’s long legacy of success and strong financial situation could pose a real threat to Liberty’s takeover plans.

Anna Washenko