(Reuters) - Journal Register Co, which publishes Connecticut’s New Haven Register and more than 140 other publications in 10 U.S. states, on Wednesday filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in less than four years, and is pursuing a quick sale.
The Chapter 11 filing came as the New York-based company struggles with a 19 percent drop since 2009 in print advertising revenue, which represents more than half of total revenue, as more readers get their news online.
Journal Register said it also has too much debt, and has seen a 52 percent increase since 2009 in lease, tax, trade and pension obligations. It said it employs 2,357 people.
The company has been owned since June 2011 by Alden Global Capital LLC, which invests in a variety of media companies, and had bought the company from lenders that had owned it since its August 2009 emergence from bankruptcy.
John Patton, Journal Register’s chief executive, in a blog post said the company plans to sell itself within 90 days at auction, and that Alden affiliate 21st CMH Acquisition Co has provided an initial “stalking horse” bid.
William Higginson, Journal Register’s executive vice president of operations, in a court filing said the bankruptcy will reduce the company’s debt burden, and leave it “better able to compete and to weather the current stresses in the industry.”
Higginson also said Journal Register’s main lenders, including Wells Fargo & Co, agreed to the sale process.
Journal Register has $235 million of assets and $268.6 million of liabilities, according to a filing with the U.S. bankruptcy court in New York.
It joins Hostess Brands Inc, the maker of Twinkies cakes, and family-style restaurant operator Buffets Inc among companies to this year make a return trip to Chapter 11.
Among Journal Register’s other publications are the Middletown Press in Connecticut and the Oakland Press in Michigan. The company also operates 237 websites, 38 smartphone and digital applications and 190 mobile sites. It listed the State of Connecticut as its largest unsecured creditor.
The case is In re Journal Register Co et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-13774.
Reporting By Jonathan Stempel in New York and Tanya Agrawal in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian and Carol Bishopric