iHeartMedia has a succession plan in place to spin off its outdoor advertising business once it emerges from bankruptcy, it was announced on Friday. The company currently owns 89.1 percent of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, but will fully separate when the restructuring process is complete in the new year.
Once iHeartMedia emerges, William Eccleshare will become CEO of CCOH. The London-based executive is currently CEO of Clear Channel International, which he joined in 2009. Scott Wells will continue as CEO of Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, reporting to Eccleshare.
iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman and president and CFO Rich Bressler will continue holding the same titles at CCOH until restructuring is completed. In a statement, Pittman said it made strategic sense for the two advertising platforms –one radio, one billboards — to split, given there is little "strategic overlap" between the two.
"We believe that the separation of the two businesses makes strategic and financial sense, and will allow each company to better achieve their individual missions," said Pittman. “Although both businesses are powerful advertising platforms, they each have valuable but different touch points within the advertising community and pursuing separate, highly-targeted strategies will unlock their full potential as freestanding companies."
iHeart filed for Chapter 11 protection in March after being saddled with $20 billion in debt, the legacy of a 2008 leveraged buyout. As part of that filing, the company announced it had reached an agreement to cut that debt in half after a debt-to-equity swap with some shareholders, with an eye towards allowing the company to continue operating and to speed up the bankruptcy process.