The owner of the Charleston Regional Business Journal plans to sell the local publication and other assets to an unidentified buyer under its newly filed bankruptcy reorganization.
The Mount Pleasant-based newspaper is expected to continue publication.
The business journal's owner, Brown Publishing Co., along with the affiliated Brown Media Holdings Co., sought protection from creditors Friday in New York. They listed assets of $94 million and debts of $104.6 million, according to a court document.
The family-owned companies have permission from their main lenders to seek $2.5 million to finance operations during the bankruptcy process. They said they plan to maintain payroll and health benefits and take other actions "to permit the companies to continue to operate in the normal course pending the sale," according to a written statement.
Roy Brown, president and chief executive officer, said in a court document that a recession-induced decline in advertising sales to businesses and individuals have hurt revenue, particularly at publications the Cincinnati-based companies own in Ohio and on New York's Long Island.
He added that Brown Publishing and Brown Media, which have defaulted on their bank loans, have taken steps to cut their costs and have tried unsuccessfully to settle their financial woes privately. He said "it became clear" to management that an out-of-court restructuring could not be accomplished quickly enough.
Brown said in a written statement that the decision to seek bankruptcy protection was difficult. He said the move will help ensure the underlying businesses are "best positioned to prosper in the years ahead."
"Over the past two years, our employees have battled the effects of an unprecedented economic and financial crisis with inspirational grit and determination," Brown said. "It is with their interests pre-eminently in mind that we have pursued this course."
Brown Publishing and Brown Media said an unidentified bidder will assume a substantial portion of their liabilities. They said they have strong cash balances, positive operating cash flows and financing in place to fund the bankruptcy plan.
The sale involves all of the companies' assets in Ohio, New York, Texas, South Carolina, Illinois, Iowa, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Wyoming. Filings said the companies publish 15 daily newspapers, 32 weekly newspapers, 11 business publications and 41 free newspapers, shoppers or niche publications. Most are in Ohio.
In South Carolina, Brown Publishing is majority owner of SC Biz News LLC, which publishes the biweekly Charleston Regional Business Journal and the Columbia Regional Business Report. Brown Publishing also owns Upstate Business LLC, which operates the newspaper GSA Business.
Grady Johnson, chief executive officer and group publisher of the 15-year-old Charleston Regional Business Journal, could not be reached for comment Monday. Brown Publishing bought the local publication in 2008.
Brown Publishing bankruptcy attorney Edward Fox referred questions Monday to the company's general counsel, Joel Dempsey, who could not be reached for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.