Freedom Communications, the parent company of the Orange County Register, where I've worked for the last eon or so, has formally filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, which means reorganization, not liquidation. This stems from all the money borrowed 5 or 6 years ago during the family feud, when certain members of the company-owning Hoiles family asked to put the company up for sale or be bought out because they said they had no real say in running the company. Investment bankers Providence and Blackstone were brought in and given equity to raise the money to buy them out -- and then the Perfect Storm hit and revenues went into the crapper. Now revenues aren't close to being enough to pay the debts and the banks will take ownership.
Just got back from a company meeting with Terry Horne, our publisher. He emphasized that it is a pre-agreed bankruptcy plan (after tough negotiations with the banks) and it should take 120-180 days to work through the formalities, at which point Chase, Union Bank and some bank in Atlanta will own us. Terry thinks the only way the banks get their money back is to wait until there is a history of improved revenue and profitability and a market develops for newspapers and other media companies -- a possibility if the recession turns around. At this point nobody wants to buy newspapers, so they'll just have to ride out the storm with us. At least the Register is still profitable and never did lose money, though the profits are precipitously below what they were in the salad days.
So no substantive changes for at least 6 months, and then probably nothing that will affect me or the libertarian nature of the Register editorial pages. But it's a long way from being fun.
People used to laugh at the old man, R.C. Hoiles, for his refusal to take on any debt, but to grow the company through revenues and buy new properties only when we could pay cash. If his offspring had followed that philosophy the company would not be in this position.