AAN News

Creditor Gains Control of Creative Loafing

At today's equity auction, federal bankruptcy judge Caryl E. Delano gave control of Creative Loafing, Inc. to the company's largest creditor, Atalaya Capital Management. Atalaya's all-cash bid of $5 million won out over Creative Loafing CEO Ben Eason's bid of $2.32 million in cash and other securities. The deal is expected to close within 10 days. We've got a roundup of all the news here. (FULL STORY)
AAN News  |  08-25-2009  12:22 pm  |  Industry News

Auction for Creative Loafing Gets Underwaynew

Creative Loafing (Atlanta)'s Thomas Wheatley is in Tampa covering the proceedings. He reports that CL CEO Ben Eason's opening bid was $2.3 million, including $825,000 cash and the rest in "in-kind contributions." Atalaya Capital Management countered by bidding $5 million in cash.
Creative Loafing (Atlanta)  |  08-25-2009  11:31 am  |  Industry News

Control of Creative Loafing Up for Grabs in Court Todaynew

Today's equity auction should be the culmination of nearly a year of bankruptcy court proceedings for the six-paper company. Creative Loafing (Atlanta) is reporting that creditor Atalaya Capital Management is trying to disqualify the other bid for the company, which has been put together by CL CEO Ben Eason. Atalya, calling Eason's bid "facially incomprehensible," is arguing that the sources for contributions included in Eason's bid "are not clear." Meanwhile, the Chicago Reader reports that Atalya managing partner Michael Bogdan has been calling CL publishers to assure them the hedge fund doesn't want to run the company into the ground. On the call to Chicago, Bogdan was joined by former Los Angeles Times editor James O'Shea, who would become a CL board member if Atalya wins control of the company. O'Shea tells Michael Miner that Atalya would make former Des Moines Register president Richard Gilbert interim CEO upon taking over.
Creative Loafing (Atlanta) | Chicago Reader  |  08-25-2009  8:55 am  |  Industry News

Chicago Reader Media Writer Reflects on Covering Creative Loafingnew

"Creative Loafing's bankruptcy is just one more media story to follow, along with the Sun-Times Media Group's bankruptcy and the Tribune Company's bankruptcy," Michael Miner writes. "But CL's is the story I'm part of." He explores the difficulties of "reporting on your own house" as a media writer, and explains why he kept news of Reader layoffs off his blog for four days -- and didn't name any of the departing staffers -- just days after he had broken news of layoffs -- with names -- at Chicago Public Radio. "I have no explanation that will satisfactorily answer this question," he writes. "The fancy one I'll retreat to is one word long: epistemology. You see, it's not simply what journalists know that matters to us but also how we happen to know it. I knew what happened at WBEZ because I got a tip and worked the story; I knew about the Reader because it's home."
Chicago Reader  |  08-24-2009  9:10 am  |  Industry News

Creative Loafing's CEO and Creditors Both Confident About Auctionnew

No surprise here: Creative Loafing CEO Ben Eason and the company's largest creditor Atalaya Capital Management both tell the Atlanta Journal-Constitution they have high hopes for next week's auction of the company in Tampa bankruptcy court. "I think we are absolutely the best bid," Eason says. "Any bid has got to have cash, management and know-how, and be in a position to run the business and pay off debt. ... We have all of that." But Atalaya managing partner Michael Bogdan begs to differ. "We are going to come into court with a bid we believe will prevail," he says. "And if somebody starts with higher bid (sic), we are absolutely willing to raise our bid." It's expected that Atalya will bid a higher dollar figure than Eason's group, but Eason has said he will ask the judge to consider publishing expertise as part of deciding what the "highest and best" bid for the six-paper company is. The auction is slated for Tuesday, Aug. 25.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  |  08-20-2009  8:52 am  |  Industry News

Ben Eason Offers CL Managers Equity If They Join Bid for the Companynew

The Creative Loafing CEO tells the Chicago Reader he is working on a bid for the company that consists of three components: Eason and his family; BIA Digital Partners, who CL owes $10 million; "and managers from all across the company." Eason says the idea is to couple the pay cuts taken by the 25-30 managers with an offer of equity in the company and a chance to join the bid. "If it loses, Eason says, they'll be paid their deferred salaries out of auction proceeds," the Reader reports. "Managers who remain on the sidelines will get paid back either way." The idea is one way Eason hopes to set his bid apart from the bid expected from Atalaya Capital Management, CL's main creditor. He hopes the show of unity will impress the bankruptcy judge, who will hold the auction for the six-paper chain on Aug. 25. "You've got managers clearly invested in the business, in continuing to run the business, and in looking to keeping it going," Eason says. MORE: In other CL news, a Chicago blogger gives his in-depth analysis of the company's value.
Chicago Reader  |  08-12-2009  2:57 pm  |  Industry News

Washington City Paper's 'Key Players' Talk About the Past & the Futurenew

In a lengthy Post Magazine feature, City Paper alums like Russ Smith, Jack Shafer and David Carr join current leaders Erik Wemple and Ben Eason in discussing the paper's history, its legacy and its future. Even former mayor Marion Barry, who recently appeared on a City Paper cover that incited some controversy, weighs in on the alt-weekly.
The Washington Post  |  08-10-2009  11:12 am  |  Industry News

Key Decision in Creative Loafing Bankruptcy Case Will Come Aug. 25new

In today's bankruptcy hearing, the judge said she will wait until the Aug. 25 equity auction to define what the "highest and best" offer will be, a decision that CL CEO Ben Eason has said will be of utmost importance to the future of the six-paper company. "While today's hearing about the rules and procedures for the bidding was given a pretty high-drama buildup ... it didn't live up to its billing and was actually a complex, confusing, and undramatic court session," Creative Loafing (Tampa)'s Wayne Garcia writes. Following the hearing, Eason told Garcia he's considering stepping down temporarily as CEO to focus on putting together a new bid for the company, though he said he hasn't made a decision yet and has no timetable in mind.
Creative Loafing (Tampa)  |  07-29-2009  4:51 pm  |  Industry News

Judge to Set Rules of Creative Loafing Auction Todaynew

CL CEO Ben Eason has said that today's hearing (rescheduled from Monday) will likely determine whether or not he will be able to retain control of the six-paper chain. The actual auction is slated for Aug. 25, but Eason says that if the judge allows unfettered bidding by Atalaya Capital Management, the company's largest creditor, he may have no chance. He thinks that would be unfair and will ask the judge to restrict Atalaya's ability to bid. "What you'll see is the judge grappling with a core issue: How do you preside over a fair auction where one of the bidders has an advantage that would cause others not to bid," Eason says. "It's like pulling money out of one pocket and putting it into another."
St. Petersburg Times  |  07-29-2009  9:54 am  |  Industry News

CEO Says Creative Loafing's Future Rests on Rules of Upcoming Auctionnew

Ben Eason tells the Chicago Reader that the key upcoming date in the ongoing bankruptcy saga of Creative Loafing is not Aug. 25, when the auction will be held, but July 27, when the judge sets the rules of the auction. He says the judge should restrict the ability of lender Atalaya Capital Management to bid on the company because "they'll put their money in and immediately take it out." He says that the issue should not just be who has the highest bid for the company, but the "highest and best" bid, which Eason thinks will be his. "For me it's my passion, my life, and everything," he says. "The real key here is not a financial play -- it's how everybody uses their publishing smarts and knowledge of online to fuse those models together. The game is not who's got the most money but who's got the most smarts to make the transition."
Chicago Reader  |  07-22-2009  11:10 am  |  Industry News

Creative Loafing Auction Setnew

A federal bankruptcy judge scheduled the auction for Aug. 25 after Creative Loafing CEO Ben Eason and the chain's largest creditor agreed on a reorganization plan, reports Creative Loafing Tampa's Wayne Garcia. Under the plan, Atalaya Capital Management LP will take a $19 million haircut, writing down the value of the loan it made two years ago to Eason to $12 million. Atalaya still plans to battle Eason and his allies for ownership of the company and has already put in a $2 million "stalking horse offer" that constitutes "the first bid up during the Aug. 25 equity auction," according to Garcia.
Creative Loafing (Tampa)  |  07-13-2009  6:02 pm  |  Industry News

Chicago Reader Publisher Steps Downnew

Kirk MacDonald, who was also COO of Creative Loafing Inc., is leaving the company to rejoin the Denver Newspaper Agency, which controls the business operations of the Denver Post, as executive vice president for sales, marketing, and digital sales. MacDonald, who joined the Reader in September 2008, says CL CEO Ben Eason will take over the COO duties temporarily, and that a new publisher will be named for the Reader.
Chicago Reader  |  06-30-2009  11:22 am  |  Industry News

Ben Eason Sees Opportunity in Chapter 11 Protectionnew

The Creative Loafing CEO tells Editor & Publisher that bankruptcy has given the six-paper chain the opportunity to speed its transformation to digital publishing and to cut its costs. He says that his staff is spending 90 percent of its energy on the web and the other 10 percent on print -- which would be impossible without bankruptcy. "Everyone in the business knows print pays the bills, but most folks don't understand that digital contributes to the profits," he says. In a pre-Chapter 11 company, "the profit expectation baked into the capital structure is entirely based on maintenance of historical print profit margins." Eason also says he expects CL to emerge from bankruptcy this summer.
Editor & Publisher  |  05-20-2009  9:19 am  |  Industry News

Ben Eason Retains Control of Creative Loafingnew

Judge Caryl E. Delano has ruled in the CL CEO's favor, denying major creditor Atalaya's motions to take control of the company, Wayne Garcia of Creative Loafing (Tampa) reports from the courthouse. Though Eason will retain control, the judge is suggesting mediation for the two sides to come up with a mutually compatible reorganization plan instead of using the one put forth by Eason earlier in the bankruptcy proceedings.
Creative Loafing (Tampa)  |  03-31-2009  3:04 pm  |  Industry News

Ruling Expected Soon in Creative Loafing Bankruptcy Casenew

After hearing more testimony yesterday on whether CEO Ben Eason should retain control the six-paper chain or if it should be turned over to its biggest creditor Atayla Capital Management, Judge Caryl Delano Delano said she will ask both sides to submit written closing arguments, which she will mull over for several days before making a ruling. MORE: Read dispatches from former CL employees Ken Edelstein and Alex Pickett.
Creative Loafing (Tampa)  |  03-18-2009  8:45 am  |  Industry News