Morris Publishing begins restructuring debt

Morris Publishing Group today launched its financial restructuring plan by opening the offer to exchange old debt with new debt that will lower its obligation to $100 million from $278 million.

“This just formalizes what we announced previously,” said Don Bailey, president of The Augusta Chronicle, which is owned by Morris Publishing.

Augusta-based Morris Publishing said in a news release that the exchange offer is an out-of-court method of restructuring the company’s indebtedness to address imminent debt repayment obligations.

The exchange offer will close on Jan. 12.

If holders of 99 percent of the $278 million in notes approve the offer, then the company will not seek bankruptcy court approval of the plan. As of the October announcement, 75 percent of the debt holders had agreed to the exchange.

If the 99 percent threshold cannot be attained, Morris Publishing will proceed with a prepackaged bankruptcy, the company said.

Most of the remaining $136 million in debt will be repaid through Morris’ parent company as a capital contribution.

Morris Publishing Group, which owns The Augusta Chronicle and 12 other daily newspapers, is a subsidiary of Morris Communications.

When the restructuring is completed, $415 million in debt will be reduced to $126.5 million.

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