Freedom Communications, which publishes the Orange County Register as well as papers in North Carolina, Florida, Texas and elsewhere, announced today that it has exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Orange County Register says that the proceedings have allowed Freedom to shed $450 million in debt but has also precipitated the end of family ownership of the company.
Says Freedom CEO Burl Osborne on the company’s website:
Today’s emergence from Chapter 11 is an exciting day for Freedom Communications. We now have the foundation to pursue opportunities for audience and revenue growth, while enhancing our service to readers, viewers, advertisers and other customers as a multi-platform provider of local news, information and entertainment.
Freedom’s press release after the jump.
Irvine, CA, April 30, 2010 — Freedom Communications has officially emerged from Chapter 11. Freedom Communications, a national privately owned media company operating print publications, broadcast television stations and interactive businesses, announced today that its Plan of Reorganization, which was confirmed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on March 9, 2010, has become effective The Company successfully completed its Chapter 11 restructuring in just eight months.
“The achievements of the past eight months are a testament to the diligence and hard work of all involved, on the part of the Company as well as our major constituents,” said Burl Osborne, Interim President & CEO. “I want to express my sincere appreciation to all of Freedom’s associates, who remained focused on their jobs during this process and whose dedication ensures the best service for our communities. I also want to thank our loyal readers, viewers, customers, advertisers and suppliers for standing by us. We look forward to continuing these relationships for many years to come.”
“Today’s emergence from Chapter 11 marks a new beginning for Freedom Communications,” said James Dunning, Jr., Chairman of the Board, “With a deleveraged balance sheet and liquidity, this company is perfectly positioned to pursue strategic initiatives that will overcome the challenges of today’s media environment and allow Freedom to serve its communities with even greater innovation and intensity.
“I want especially to recognize Burl Osborne for his leadership, which was incredibly important in guiding Freedom through the challenging restructuring process.”
Mr. Osborne will continue as Interim President and CEO while the Board completes its search for a CEO. At that time Mr. Osborne will continue as a senior advisor and will remain on the Board.
Freedom also announced today that Mark McEachen, currently Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and who serves as the company’s Chief Restructuring Officer, has been promoted to the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. As Chief Operating Officer, Mr. McEachen will be directly responsible for all of the Company’s newspaper, broadcast and interactive operations. He will also continue to serve as Chief Financial Officer.
As previously announced, the Plan of Reorganization, which was supported by the Steering Committee of the Company’s secured lenders and the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, and approved by an overwhelming majority of its voting creditors, eliminates approximately $450 million of debt from Freedom’s balance sheet.
The Chapter 11 petitions were filed on September 1, 2009 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, in Wilmington. The case number is 09-13046. Additional information regarding the filings, including the Company’s plan of reorganization and disclosure statement, can also be found at www.loganandco.com.