Ion Hires Investment Bank to Explore Financing Alternatives

Apr 5, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Ion Media Networks, the company previously known as Paxson Communications, said Wednesday it has hired investment bank UBS Securities to advise the broadcaster on strategies that will improve Ion’s financial flexibility.

The decision to hire UBS comes after Ion refinanced $1.1 billion of debt in December and is part of a broader strategy by the company to gain more financial flexibility.

“Our December 2005 debt refinancing significantly enhanced our operational and financial flexibility by extending all our debt maturities to 2012 and 2013,” Ion CEO Brandon Burgess said in a statement. “We are now focusing on longer-term financial strategy and operational value creation.”

For years Ion has struggled with both a mountain of debt and its programming strategy. After attempting to cast itself as a broadcaster of family-friendly television shows, the company has changed tactics and is now focusing on being a broadcaster of independently produced shows.

In November, NBC Universal and Ion ended their years-long legal tussle over NBCU’s 32 percent stake in the company, with NBCU agreeing to give Ion 18 months to find a partner or a buyer for Ion. As part of that settlement, Ion founder Lowell “Bud” Paxson agreed to step down and hand the management reins to Mr. Burgess, who previously was a top executive at NBC Universal.