Sale of Bankrupt Brown Publishing to Bank Looks Imminent

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

Court filings in Brown Publishing Co.’s bankruptcy case suggest the Cincinnati-based chain of newspapers and business journals could be sold as early as Friday.

In Bankruptcy Court in Central Islip, N.Y. Thursday lawyers for Brown Publishing proposed an order authorizing the sale of nearly all the assets of the company to  PNC Bank.

Also Thursday, Bankruptcy Court Judge Dorothy Eisenberg signed an order authorizing Brown Publishing to use its cash collateral to continue operations through Friday. Earlier filings in the case suggested PNC was prepared to close the transaction on Friday.

A sale would bring to a formal end the attempt by Brown Publishing CEO Roy Brown and two other top company executives to buy the chain of 15 dailies, 32 paid weeklies, 11 business journals and numerous other publications that they brought into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May.

The insiders group, incorporated as Brown Media, won the auction in July with a bid of $22.4 million, but was unable to close the sale  when its financial backer walked away from the deal. PNC was the second-highest bidder, according to court filings, which do not specify what its bid was. PNC led a bank group that was owed $74 million.

When Brown Publishing filed for Chapter 11 protection, it listed its properties as having a book value of $94.1 million.

At the auction, the parent company of the Delphos (Ohio) Daily Herald was declared the winning bidder for three Ohio newspapers and their related assets: one daily, The Times Bulletin in Van Wert and two weeklies, the Putnam County Sentinel and the Ada Herald. Delphos Herald Inc. bid  $3.59 million for the papers. That sale closed last week.

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