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December 08, 2008

NY Times And Tribune Company Sinking Fast

The New York Times seems to be having some cash flow problems.

The New York Times Company plans to borrow up to $225 million against its mid-Manhattan headquarters building, to ease a potential cash flow squeeze as the company grapples with tighter credit and shrinking profits.

...The company has two revolving lines of credit, each with a ceiling of $400 million, roughly the amount outstanding on the two combined. One of those lines is set to expire in May, and finding a replacement would be difficult given the economic climate and the company's worsening finances. Analysts have said for months that selling or borrowing against assets would be the company's best option for averting a cash flow problem next year.

Standard & Poor's recently lowered its credit rating on the Times Company below investment grade, and Moody's Investors Service has said it was considering a similar move. Times Company stock, which has lost more than half its value this year, closed on Friday at $7.64, down 30 cents.

Ah, piling on new debt on during a time of decreased revenue is such a great plan. If they want to see where that leads they can just ask the folks at the Tribune Company, owner of the LA Times and other media properties which appears to be heading for bankruptcy.

Tribune Co. is preparing for a possible filing for bankruptcy-court protection as soon as this week, according to people familiar with the matter, in a sign of worsening trouble for the newspaper industry.

In recent days, as Chicago-based Tribune continued talks with lenders to restructure its debt, the newspaper-and-television concern hired investment bank Lazard Ltd. as its financial adviser and law firm Sidley Austin to advise the company on a possible trip through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, people familiar with the matter say.

...Tribune's latest actions underscore the deepening distress enveloping Tribune and other newspaper publishers. Their businesses are being battered by dwindling advertising sales, and many are carrying debt loads that are unmanageable in current market conditions. Industry insiders expect some papers will need to fold in coming months or seek protection from creditors to reorganize.

I wonder how long it will be until the Sulzbergers, Sam Zell and the rest of the media barons start agitating for federal bailout funds.

In all honesty, much of my joy at the situation these companies find themselves in is tempered by the fact that most people hurt by this aren't the publishers, editors or big time reporters who have done so much to pervert much of our national discourse but rather people much further down the food chain. Still if this aids in the creative destruction of the modern MSM, well choices have consequences as these companies are finding out.


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posted by DrewM. at 10:58 AM

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