New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy - Herald Media Holdings Inc.

Herald Media Holdings Inc.

  • 12/8/17 Recap: Boston-based 170-year old legacy print news media company that owns and publishes (i) the Boston Herald and (ii) the digital media site has filed for bankruptcy to effectuate an expedited 363 sale to Gatehouse Media Massachusetts I, Inc for "an all-in value of not less than $5,000,000." In a sign of the times known to literally everyone, the Company notes in its filing that "there has been an increase in news source and advertising alternatives that has continued to erode traditional print media sources of revenue. Incremental digital revenue has not been sufficient to offset the decline in print revenue." Interestingly - given that there is a lot of discussion today about the state of media and the push-pull of advertising dollars vs. subscription revenue - the company derives approximately 67% of its revenue from paid circulation (single copy sales and subscription sales) and approximately 33% from print and online advertising. Nevertheless, the company's projections reflect a nearly $3mm loss for fiscal year 2018. In an effort to combat declining revenues, the Company pursued cost-cutting initiatives (e.g., headcount reductions, outsourcing, etc.,) but no more levers remained available to pull. Indeed, "[g]iven the general economic climate for the newspaper industry and the company’s significant pension and retirement liabilities, no financing options are available for the company to continue with its current capital structure." Note that the company's top list of creditors reflects various unions under four different collective bargaining agreements (CBAs): those fixed costs aren't easy to shed outside of bankruptcy. Employee-related expenses including payroll, benefits and pension/retirement contributions account for 58% of operating expenses while production and distribution of the paper accounts for 23% of total operating expenses. Looking at those numbers, it becomes pretty obvious why this business became unsustainable. Notably, the propose sale is conditioned upon the Company rejecting all CBAs in bankruptcy so that the asset transfer is free and clear of those obligations. Gatehouse is offering a $500k DIP credit facility to fund the administration of the case.
  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein) 
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Brown Rudnick LLP (William Baldiga, Sunni Belville, Tristan Axelrod) & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP (Curtis Miller, Tamara Minott, Jose Bibiloni)
    • Investment Banker: Dirks Van Essen & Murray
    • Claims Agent: Epiq Bankruptcy Solutions LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:

Updated 12/9/17 10:20 am CT