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Freedom Sets Bid Deadline

Jun 23, 2003  •  Post A Comment

TV station and newspaper owner Freedom Communications has set June 26 as the deadline for parties interested in making a first-round bid for the company, which owns eight television stations, 27 daily newspapers and 28 weekly newspapers.
Alan Bell, Irvine, Calif.-based Freedom’s president and CEO, said Thursday that the company remains on track with its plans to have some kind of sale-either for some or all of Freedom’s assets-resolved by the end of the summer. The company began soliciting bids in May, after it hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to explore a sale, he added.
Mr. Bell refuted rumors percolating last week that media giant Gannett had struck a deal with Freedom to acquire the company.
“There’s no under the table, over the table or side of the table deal with Gannett, despite the rumor that has spread around the country in the past few days,” Mr. Bell wrote in a letter to Freedom’s top-level employees.
Charter Amends Terms
Charter Communications, the cable company controlled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, said on Wednesday that it inked a deal with its banks that amends the terms on $5.2 billion in senior credit facilities and makes it easier for the debt-laden multiple system operator to borrow the $300 million that Mr. Allen has offered to help bail out the company.
As part of the deal, St. Louis-based Charter plans to set up holding companies that could more effectively borrow funds to help pay down a debt load that is around $19 billion. Among the plans being considered is one in which Charter issues $1.38 billion in debt that exchanges into equity, according to a late report in The Wall Street Journal.
That convertible note offering would be in addition to borrowing $300 million that Mr. Allen has made available through his holding company, Vulcan Inc.
The arrangement comes a little more than a week after Charter, which boasts 6.7 million subscribers, purchased cable giant Comcast’s stake in a joint venture for $728 million. Charter struck that deal to enable Mr. Allen to avoid paying Comcast $725 million to purchase a stake in Charter that Comcast inherited with its acquisition of AT&T Broadband.
Stewart Trial Jan. 12
A federal judge on Thursday scheduled Jan. 12 as the date Martha Stewart will stand trial on charges arising out of her sale of ImClone Systems stock, according to wire reports.
Ms. Stewart’s lawyers are set to present oral arguments Nov. 18 before U.S. District Court Judge Miriam Cedarbaum.