George Soros Fund Buys $400 Million Stake In 227 US Radio Stations Going Into 2024 Election

Billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros has been the target of controversy recently after a recent move to become a controlling shareholder in the second-largest owner of radio stations in the U.S.

This isn't the first media brand Soros has bought a substantial stake in, but it worries some people going into the 2024 election. Last year, Soros bought a substantial stake in Vice Media Group. Vice was once worth nearly $6 billion, but Soros bought a stake in the company for pennies on the dollar following its surprise bankruptcy in 2023. The deal valued Vice at roughly $350 million with Soros owning an undisclosed stake in the company.

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Audacy, the No. 2 U.S. radio broadcaster behind iHeartMedia, recently filed for bankruptcy. The company owns 227 major radio stations in 27 states and 45 cities across the U.S. These include some of the biggest channels in New York; Memphis and Chattanooga, Tennessee; Denver; Washington D.C., Miami and Orlando, Florida; Atlanta; Baltimore, Maryland; Wichita, Kansas; Austin, Dallas and Houston, Texas; Richmond, Virginia; and many major cities across California as well as several other prominent markets across the U.S.

The bankruptcy plan, which would convert debt purchases into equity ownership, saw Soros purchase roughly 40% of Audacy's debt, according to The New York Post. While that isn't a true 51% controlling stake, it's likely to be one of the largest, if not the largest, stakes in the company potentially giving the Soros Fund effective control of Audacy, The Post reported in February.

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Some have voiced concerns about this purchase going into the 2024 election. Soros is a well-known political advocate for left-leaning politicians and is often one of the largest donors to such politicians in countries around the world. Soros donated over $140 million to political causes in 2021 and $170 million to the 2022 mid-term elections.

This influence on the U.S. political system has caused speculation about his control over politicians and elections for many years. Some fear this acquisition could be used as a campaign tool at the local and regional levels or to influence the upcoming 2024 election. The New York Post's article details one conservative voice close to the deal describing the transaction as "scary."

While there are several other entities involved in this transaction, it's unclear who will have effective control or whether there will be a noticeable impact on any of the radio stations. Soros has conducted hundreds of billions of dollars in business deals and acquisitions over the decades, with many of them to provide a return on investment (ROI) to his investors.

Some brands have shown the ability to be owned by interested parties while still maintaining a semblance of journalistic integrity. Inc. Founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post when it was in decline in 2013. After an infusion of capital and a much-needed bailout, the company has continued to thrive in recent years. Despite being owned by Bezos, The Washington Post has, on occasion, not shied away from criticizing its billionaire owner.

While it's unclear what implications this will have on radio stations across the U.S. or the 2024 election, it's likely to draw continued speculation and controversy going into the election this November.

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