Freedom Communications Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s Central District of California.
The Santa Ana-based publishing company—which owns the Orange County Register and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside—listed a range of $10 million to $50 million in liabilities, including $7.5 million it owes to Angelo Gordon Co. in New York, $1.9 million to American Express, $1.5 million to Latham & Watkins LLP in Boston, and $1.03 million to Ponderay Newsprint Co. in Los Angeles.
“We’re turning the page and starting a new chapter,” said Richard Mirman, an investor in Freedom who took over as chief executive and president in March, in comments published in the Register’s online story. "We’ve gone through a few rocky years and we need to redefine ourselves.”
Mirman, along with an investment team that includes Eric Spitz, Freedom’s former president, plans to put up a bid to buy the company out of bankruptcy, according to the article. Also part of the new investment group is Santa Ana property owner and developer Michael Harrah, who bought Freedom's headquarters on Grand Avenue in 2014.
The bid appears designed at least in part to remove Aaron Kushner—who led an investment group that took control of Freedom in 2012 and embarked an a growth plan that quickly became unsustainable—from ownership. Their bid “would end Kushner’s ownership stake in Freedom.”
Spitz will remain chairman.
A news report said Tribune Publishing, which owns the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, could also emerge as a bidder for Freedom Communications.
Mirman said the company expects to turn a profit this year after losing more than $40 million in the previous two years, according to the article.