Bankruptcy bid leaves 285 CT media pros in limbo

A bid to buy the New Haven Register’s parent company Journal Register Co., which is in bankruptcy, is still pending in federal court, but JRC has told the state it expects the deal to close in April and 285 media pros will lose their jobs.

However, JRC management has said it has asked the new ownership to retain all the employees.

The mass layoff notice JRC filed earlier this month is a bit of a technicality, though that’s not much comfort for employees.
Here’s a brief synopsis on this story:
JRC filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in September of 2012. As part of its plan, the ownership decided it was in its best interest to auction off the business, and got a stalking horse bid from 21st CMH Acquisition, an affiliate of Alden Capital, which is itself a secured creditor/owner of JRC to the tune of $150 million.
The company built up a large load of debt through acquisitions over the course of nearly two decades before the newspaper industry hit the skids. Many companies have also struggled, including Tribune.
No other bids were accepted by Feb. 11 and so JRC filed notice it would accept the Alden affiliate’s offer. That offer would provide about $1.75 million in cash, part of which will go to unsecured creditors, pay off some debt obligations and represents the equivalent of $117.5 million in debt. The actual amount can be higher as debts have climbed during the procedure.
The Connecticut properties up for sale include the Register, The Middletown Press, Torrington Register Citizen, Connecticut Magazine and several others.
The court has to approve the deal, but has not yet done so, according to bankruptcy records.
In the meantime, the 285 employees in Connecticut, which includes sales, reporters, editors, finance and other staff, will lose their job when the deal closes, technically.
Presumably the company will continue to operate so many of these workers will be offered their old jobs, but whether all will keep earning paychecks is unclear.
It’s not unheard of in situations like this for a company to file a mass layoff notice. Bus companies that lose school district contracts do it, even though many of the bus drivers will be hired by the winner of the new contract. But in some cases, people are forced to reapply for their jobs with the new company.

Rob Varnon