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Journal Register Co. files for bankruptcy - again

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by WolvEagle, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. WolvEagle

    WolvEagle Active Member

    JRC filed in 2009. Employees just found out that it's happening again. Just great...


    Today Digital First Media announced Journal Register Company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to implement a prompt sale.

    We expect the auction and sale process to take about 90 days, and I am pleased to tell you the Company has a signed stalking horse bid for Journal Register Company from 21st CMH Acquisition Co., an affiliate of funds managed by Alden Global Capital LLC.

    So why file Chapter 11?

    The Company exited the 2009 restructuring with approximately $225 million in debt and with a legacy cost structure, which includes leases, defined benefit pensions and other liabilities that are now unsustainable and threaten the Company’s efforts for a successful digital transformation.

    From 2009 through 2011, digital revenue grew 235% and digital audience more than doubled at Journal Register Company. So far this year, digital revenue is up 32.5%. Expenses by year’s end will be down more than 9.7% compared to 2009.

    At the same time, as total expenses were down overall, the Company has invested heavily in digital with digital expenses up 151% since 2009. Journal Register Company has and will continue to invest in the future.

    But also from 2009 to 2011 Journal Register Company’s print advertising revenue declined 19% and print advertising represents more than half of the of the Company’s revenues. Print advertising for the newspaper industry declined approximately 17% over the same time period, according to the Newspaper Association of America. As well, both print circulation and circulation revenue have also declined over the same time period.

    Since 2009, printing facilities have been reduced from 14 to 6; 9 of the 50 owned facilities have been sold and 8 distribution centers have been outsourced.

    During the same time period, debt was reduced by 28% with the Company currently servicing in excess of $160 million of debt.

    All of the digital initiatives and expense efforts are consistent with the Company’s Digital First strategy and while the Journal Register Company cannot afford to halt its investments in its digital future it can now no longer afford the legacy obligations incurred in the past.

    Many of those obligations, such as leases, were entered into in the past when revenues, at their peak, were nearly twice as big as they are today and are no longer sustainable. Revenues in 2005 were about two times bigger than projected 2012 revenues. Defined Benefit Pension underfunding liabilities have grown 52% since 2009.

    After a lot of thought, the Board of Directors concluded a Chapter 11 filing was the best course of action.

    Journal Register Company’s filing will have no impact on the day-to-day operation of Journal Register Company, Digital First Media or MediaNews Group during the sale process. They will continue to operate their business and roll out new initiatives.

    If you have questions just ask – you know how to reach me.

    I know this announcement will leave you with questions – ask. Your managers, I and any member of senior leadership at Digital First Media will be available to answer.

    And while I get this news may make some of you nervous, don’t let it. Concentrate on the job at hand and we will work through this. This really is the right decision for Journal Register Company.


    John Paton
    Chief Executive Officer
    Digital First Media
  2. WolvEagle

    WolvEagle Active Member

    If John Paton's such a friggin' savior, like he portrayed himself to be, why did he lead JRC right back into bankruptcy?
  3. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    No need to worry. Just another bankruptcy. Keep working.
  4. boundforboston

    boundforboston Well-Known Member

    So Digital First Media is selling Journal Register Company, which is going into bankruptcy. Would that necessarily impact DFM/Media News Group? Getting rid of something going into bankruptcy would seem to be a positive, right?
  5. WolvEagle

    WolvEagle Active Member

    This isn't a positive if you work for a JRC paper and have to go through bankruptcy AGAIN!!!!
  6. boundforboston

    boundforboston Well-Known Member

    Excuse me, I meant for Digital First and Media News Group newspapers. Of course, this is a negative for you guys. Is it positive that there is a buyer already lined up?
  7. WolvEagle

    WolvEagle Active Member

    Depends on the buyer, I guess.
  8. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    I thought Alden already owned JRC?
  9. WolvEagle

    WolvEagle Active Member

    It does. That's part of what makes this so confusing.
  10. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    So they're trying to wiggle out of more obligations? Essentially they're asking the court to make a decision that provides a de facto bailout.

    Typical American big business.
  11. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    I'd hate to see the state of the company had the first bankruptcy court not allowed them to give their executives bonuses.
  12. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    1) On the surface, this sounds very much like the kind of deal that has become very popular in private equity over the last decade -- buy a distressed company, saddle it with debt, take your "special dividend" out of the loaned funds and guarantee a nice return, and leave all the debt in the hands of the company that was just bought. This ensures the failure of the company itself, but the hedge fund is insulated.

    2) As an added bonus, they get to stiff the pension obligations by going through bankruptcy. If this account lands with the PBGC, workers will be lucky to get 20 percent of the pensions they had been promised.

    3) Basically, and not to get too political here, this is the kind of work Bain Capital and all the rest have been doing, how they have flowed money from the workers to the executives.

    4) John Paton is a snake-oil salesman who had the tremendous foresight to sell to newspaper executives, the dumbest bunch of businessmen to ever run a business. I admire his ability to find his personal niche. Anyone who has ever listened to or read one of his speeches can see what a crock of shit he had cooked up.
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