Yellow-Pages Publisher Hibu Seeks U.S. Court Protection

Hibu Inc., the publisher of “Yellowbook” phone directories in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy court protection to aid the U.K. restructuring that began this month.

The company, based in Reading, England, owes creditors more than $1 billion, according to a Chapter 15 filing in Central Islip, New York, that seeks to block lawsuits and organize creditors in the U.S. Hibu, which also prints yellow pages in the U.K. and Spain, began reorganizing in U.K. courts on Jan. 17 after earnings fell on competition from the Internet.

Directory publishers such as Hibu are moving away from print as businesses shift advertising online. Canada’s Yellow Media Ltd. rebounded from a debt restructuring to surge almost fourfold in the past year as it captured digital ad sales. The U.S.’s YP, bought by Cerberus Capital Management LP from AT&T Inc. for $950 million in 2012, changed its brand from Yellow Pages and now generates more than $1 billion a year in digital-advertising revenue, according to the company’s website.

Before court proceedings began, Hibu negotiated a restructuring in July that would reduce its debt by 800 million pounds ($1.3 billion) while giving lenders control of the company, formerly known as Yell.

Profit before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization for the year to March 2013 dropped to 283 million pounds from 461.3 million pounds for the same period in 2012, the company reported July 25.

In addition to the U.K., U.S. and Spain, Hibu has operations in Argentina, Chile and Peru.

The case is In re Hibu Inc., 14-bk-70323, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of New York (Central Islip).

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