After cutting debt, Emmis lines up $100M refinancing

Emmis Communications Corp. on Friday said it had pulled off a $100 million debt refinancing under favorable terms, the culmination of CEO Jeff Smulyan’s years-long quest to strengthen the company's balance sheet.

“This marks an important milestone for Emmis,” Smulyan said in a statement. “We’re thrilled that after several years of hard work, we are now in a position to refinance the company at favorable and flexible terms to provide Emmis the capital to fuel our future growth.”

It wasn't immediately clear how much lower the interest rates on the new debt would be.

Indianapolis-based Emmis has been carrying debt far above market rates, some as high as 23 percent. It also was facing tens of millions of dollars in debt maturities in 2013 and 2014.

The new financing—an $80 million term loan and a $20 million credit line—does not come due until December 2017.

Participants in the new financing include affiliates of JPMorgan Chase, General Electric and Fifth Third Bank.

Emmis began rapidly cutting costs after the Great Recession caused a sharp decline in radio advertising revenue. The company further strengthened its balance sheet by selling radio stations and magazines and leasing a New York City radio station to ESPN Radio.

Smulyan this spring likened the process to “pushing water uphill.” He said the company, after years of being on defense, was ready to begin exploiting growth opportunities again.

Friday’s announcement of the refinancing came after the markets had closed for the afternoon. Emmis shares closed at $1.75, up two cents on the day.

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