December 19, 2008

A potential JRC buyer says company wouldn't provide enough information

A statement from former Republican mayoral candidate Ken Johnson, who was involved with what proved to be an unsuccessful effort to buy The Bristol Press this month:

As you know I was in conversation with local investors and then, more recently, a local businessperson who inquired about bidding.  The confidentiality agreement I signed with Dirks, Van Essen & Murray (the firm retained by the JRC) precludes me from discussing the particulars. I can certainly say, however, that the lack of information from the seller has been a primary impediment to submitting any purchase offer. My contact at DV&M actually felt compelled to apologize for the lack of information. Completing the necessary due diligence on a very tight timeline has been a factor, as well.

You may be right about the JI. That might be a best case scenario for the employees of the Press at this point. I still firmly believe that the best outcome for the City and for the Press would be a community-based ownership team as we had in the Barnes’ era. The JRC did us no favors and I wish them good riddance. It appears to me that a sale is likely, although, I can tell you from experience that there’s a lot that can happen from offer to acceptance to closing… Prospective bidders could express an interest in buying the Herald, the Press and the real estate or any portion thereof.  I have no expectation that anyone is going to show any interest in the real estate (99 Main St.) and, if there’s a sale, it will likely include the subscriber base, the advertisement database, the archives and the masthead and the employees needed to run a paper. There’s will be some value assigned to the hard business assets (but not much in my book!). If the buyer is already in the business, like the JI, I would expect the deal would include the Herald and the Press.

Johnson is apparently not the only possible buyer who has complaints about the dearth of information the company is providing. It doesn't speak well for the professed desire of the company to sell the papers.

But we're all trying to remain optimistic. At least another newspaper company has a pretty good idea what they're getting.

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Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

17 comments:

Steve Collins said...

And before somebody takes a shot at Johnson, I want to say that I know the local effort he mentions was serious and the money necessary was available, if the potential buyers had seen enough data to convince them the endeavor was worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

Is the JR stonewalling because if they do sell they still have liabilities they would have to pay for (but don't have the money too) whereas they could not sell and file Chapter 7 and get out of the whole mess?

Anonymous said...

Thank God for Ken Johnson.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else publicizing their interest?

Did they have the same problem?

Or is the firm screening for legitimate buyers?

Steve Collins said...

The broker is a legitimate firm that has handled newspaper sales for a long while. I'm sure it's trying to make the best deal it can.

Anonymous said...

It's really up to the buyer to form projections and budgets of their own based on information the buyer compiles on his own.

When one buys a house one usually inspects the house. This is no different.

I have a feeling the complaints are not justified. Why wouldn't JRC want to not provide information?? They want a sale. They want the cash from the sale.

Anonymous said...

I can think of at least two reasons the JRC might be less than vigorous in its efforts to sell.
One is that its executives are so busy trying to save some sort of truncated company that they simply don't have the time to bother working on anything related to a sale of a paper they've already written off.
Another is that given the company's deep indebtedness, it's entirely possible that the JRC itself won't make any money off a sale. Any cash from a sale might go directly to a creditor.
If you think about that from a homeseller's perspective, it makes sense. If I were to sell my house and keep the money I make, I'd work pretty hard to make sure it looked good, that my records were available and orderly, that a few tulips were dancing in the breeze, and such. But if any money I made from selling my house was going straight to the bank, I wouldn't bother doing, well, anything much. What would be in it for me? Nothing.
I'm reasonably sure that the reality of the situation is some combination of both alternatives. I truly don't believe the JRC cares much whether it sells or closes the Press. Its contempt for its workers, its papers and the communities it serves is clear enough in its decisions in recent days to shutter at least 20 weeklies without any notice at all to anyone. There's precious little evidence that the company made any effort to sell these papers. It just closed them.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Ken Johnson get some help from some real people who know what they're doing? Is it because he wants to be the hero and not share credit? Or is he just along for the ride while others do the real work?

Steve Collins said...

Ken did get help. The local group he was involved with had the capacity to buy the paper. He was not "trying to be a hero" or hog the credit, whatever that means. He was attempting to put together a team of investors. It didn't work out in part because those involved did not think they got adequate information from the JRC.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe the JRC cares whether it sells any of the papers or not. Otherwise, they'd be trumpeting the fact that it is for sale from the pages of the Press. Through the years, the company has never hesitated to plaster its own self-serving press releases all over Page One. The fact that almost all the news on this dire situation and any potential ubyer or sale comes only on this blog ought to tell you something. Notice how stories written about the paper's value in the community were posted here, but never ran in the "real" paper. It's the biggest story in town, and yet, it's being ignored except for here. We readers owe you for that, Steve.

Anonymous said...

This "thank god for all the republicans" probably doesn't even go to church ! But we can see the extent of his vocabulary .

Concerned Conservative said...

I find it hard to believe that too many serious investors would take the leadership of Ken Johnson seriously.

Anonymous said...

Concerned Conservative,

It is so easy to sit back and judge. But what have you done? Same as always -- nothing. At least Ken gave it a shot.

He stepped in when others didn't so cut him some slack. But you'd rather just snipe and question his motives.

As for me, I hope the Press is bought and I will continue to support it.

Thanks Ken for trying.

Anonymous said...

What leadership???

Concerned Conservative said...

December 21, 2008 11:21 AM:

Exactly.

A joke is what it is...albeit a bad one .

Anonymous said...

CC

Were you talking about the "leadership" line or Johnson?

Giggles said...

Who is Johnson's advisor, Geladino?