Journal Register Co., which publishes the New Haven Register and was acquired last year by Alden Global Capital Ltd., filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in less than four years.
The company listed assets of more than $100 million in Chapter 11 documents filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Journal Register said it owes creditors about $162.3 million, mostly secured debt tied to its 2009 exit from bankruptcy.
“The debtors have been challenged by a recent downturn in print advertising that was more severe than had been anticipated,” Executive Vice President of Operations William J. Higginson said in court papers.
21st CMH Acquisition Co., an affiliate of funds managed by Alden, agreed to act as the stalking-horse, or lead bidder, for Journal Register’s assets in a bankruptcy auction, according to court papers. Journal Register expects the sale process to take about 90 days. The Alden lenders will be credit bidding, or offering the value of the secured debt they are owed in exchange for the assets, the company said.
The Yardley, Pennsylvania-based publisher previously sought court protection in February 2009, at the time listing debt of as much as $1 billion. Journal Register exited bankruptcy in August 2009 under the terms of a prenegotiated reorganization plan.
The company operates primarily in the Philadelphia and Cleveland areas, as well as in Michigan, New York State and Connecticut. Its newspapers include the Delaware County Times and the Trentonian near Philadelphia, the Oakland Press in Michigan, the Daily Freeman in Kingston, New York, the Register Citizen in Connecticut and the News-Herald outside of Cleveland.
Journal Register and its affiliates have about 1,832 full-time and 525 part-time employees, with about 23 percent of those workers under collective-bargaining agreements, according to court papers.
Digital operations include 237 websites, 38 smartphone and digital applications and 19 mobile sites affiliated with its daily newspapers and non-daily publications, court papers show.
Twenty-eight affiliates, including St. Louis Sun Publishing Co., Northeast Publishing Co., Hometown Newspapers Inc., Acme Newspapers Inc., Morning Star Publishing Co., Digital First Media Inc., Great Lakes Media Inc., Greater Detroit Newspaper Network Inc. and Saginaw Area Newspapers Inc., also sought protection.
The case is In Re Journal Register Co., 12-13774, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).