Freedom Communications Inc., the publisher of many newspapers around the country known for their libertarian views, has finally emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, their debt loand $450 million lighter; but also under new ownership
Three investment companies - Alden Global Capital, Angelo Gordon & Co. and Luxor Capital Group - and a group of lenders led by JPMorgan Chase will assume ownership of Freedom, which is also the parent of the group's flagship newspaper, The Orange County (Calif.) Register.... Freedom's founding Hoiles family will no longer have an interest in the company, ending more than 75 years of ownership that started with Raymond Cyrus "R.C." Hoiles, who purchased the Register in 1935 as a platform for his libertarian views on individual freedom and limited government.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy left unsecured creditors with $32.2 million to divide amongst themselves and Freedom exits bankruptcy with $325 million in debt to repay. But Freedom's chief executive officer, Burl Osburns exclaims that Chapter 11 bankruptcy helped to lift the veil of uncertainty hanging over the company and now that their debt load has been significantly reduced, Freedom has become a viable company which is strong enough to prevail against the storm of changes gripping the newspaper publishing industry.
While Freedom filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2009, its financial problems began in 2004 when the company borrowed $1 billion to buy out some family member/owners who wanted to cash in their shares. But unfortunately for Freedom, 2004 marked the year that the newspaper business began facing a significant decline in circulation, decreased advertising revenue and fierce competition from online newspapers which eventually drove Freedom and 13 other newspaper businesses into bankruptcy.