Morris Publishing Group announces call for redemption of its public debt

The Augusta Chronicle’s parent company has called for the redemption of all public debt, about two years ahead of the due date.

Morris Publishing Group LLC announced Thursday that it has elected to redeem all outstanding notes and has deposited the funds with the trustee to pay off the notes Aug. 10.

The company refinanced its debt with CB&T of Columbus, Ga., a division of Synovus Bank.

Morris Publishing, based in Augusta, filed a prepackaged plan of reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in January 2010 to restructure its debt. It emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy two months later.

“Today demonstrates just how far we’ve come in proving that there is a sustainable future for our company,” William S. Morris IV, the chief executive officer of Morris Publishing Group, said in a press release. “We believe in the power of journalism and commercial and non-commercial information provided to serve local communities daily. We continue to change our operations to reach local audiences and serve local businesses across print and digital channels.”

Morris emerged from bankruptcy in 2010 with new second lien secured notes, which were due in 2014, according to the press release. Since then, Morris has worked to pay down the debt and refinance, the release said. The company had $100 million in debt after the bankruptcy. According to a Thursday filing with the Securities Exchange Commission, the principal amount of the new notes is $57.2 million.

The company has restructured its management and workforce in the past three years, emphasizing its digital platforms and customer solutions, the statement said.

“The call for early redemption and payment to our bond holders is a huge milestone for us and reflects the commitment that our company leaders and employees have had to turn around a financially stressed organization,” said Derek May, the executive vice president of Morris Publishing. “Our future is bright as we transform into a digital-first media company, and this transition in financing shows the confidence we and our lenders have in our future.”

May said he is proud of the company’s progress in the years since emerging from bankruptcy.

“We still have the challenges of our industry,” he said. “We have a lot of opportunities in digital.”

In addition to The Chronicle, Morris Publishing operates 11 other daily newspapers, in addition to nondaily newspapers, city magazines and free community publications.

Under the new agreement, Morris Publishing Group LLC continues to be wholly owned and controlled by the Morris family.

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