As the company inches closer and closer to emerging from bankruptcy, with a much cleaner balance sheet, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman sat for an interview with Vonnie Quinn of Bloomberg Markets this week.
Regarding the bankruptcy situation, Pittman said splitting away from Outdoor allows iHeart to align the companies better for investors. “What we found was the companies that really love outdoor are not necessarily ones that really love audio, and vice versa, so we now have some pure plays for them. From an operating standpoint, we’ve actually done remarkably well, even with the high debt load. Having a balance sheet that finally matches the operating performance of the business certainly gives us a lot of opportunities, and lets us take advantage of opportunities more quickly as they crop up.”
When asked by Quinn if the company was open to being acquired or fitting into a larger entity, Pittman said the company has a great future running as iHeart. “So, I’m not looking at that, and that’s not on a wish list somewhere. However, we do recognize that once this capital structure sticks that we’ll be attractive to a lot of companies and there are a lot of companies I think that want to partner with us and look for ways to be involved with us and I think it’s understandable and, I guess, it’s flattering.”
Quinn asked specifically about Liberty Media. “We wouldn’t comment on any possible alliance and I think you’d have to talk to them to see what they might have in mind. For us, we are focused on our mission, which is to super-serve the consumer, continue to build this massive reach we have with the number one reach medium in America, ahead of even Facebook and Google, and really to get our advertising to catch up to the marketplace. We are under-monetized based on the reach we have, the time spent listening, and the R.O.I. we give advertisers. We can do a lot more and that’s our 100% focus.”
And finally, Quinn asked Pittman about the possibility of partnering with Apple. The iHeart CEO said the company has something very unique but he really couldn’t speak to who finds that attractive. “We’re the number one commercial podcaster now with a lead of about two or three to one over the next largest. We’re the number one digital radio app. We had more social impressions last year than the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, and the Grammys combined. So we have a lot of powerful assets here and clearly we are opening to partner with people, and we do partner with a lot of companies. We pride ourselves on being good partners. So, we sort of look at what’s our goal, what’s the best way to get there, and it’s usually three things, it’s usually make, buy, or partner.”
Check out the entire Bloomberg interview HERE.