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Local Media & Agencies

Oct. 14 – Georgia Times Union’s parent, Morris Publishing Group, confirms that it has paid off all debt

Category: Local Media & Agencies

By Lou Phelps, Coastal Empire News

October 14, 2014 – It’s taken two years, but Morris Publishing Group, LLC, publishers of the Savannah Morning News and the Georgia Times Union, confirmed last week that the company has successfully paid off all its debt.

Two years ago, in August 2012, the company successfully refinanced its debt under more favorable terms with CB&T, of Columbus, Georgia, a division of Synovus Bank. Synovus did not require the company to continue to file public financial statements.  At the time, the company reported more than $60 million in debt.

But in recent industry announcements, the company is now reporting that it has paid off all debt through divestitures and stringent cost controls, confirmed last week by Executive Vice President Derek May.  It's positive news for all newspapers and local media companies in Georgia; the newspaper industry continues to try to publicize that the industry is doing well... transforming itself into new business models despite some significant loses in print circulation.

At one point, Morris Publishing Group was drowning under $550 million in debt, and was forced to file for bankruptcy protection in January 2010.  At that time, a group of banks holding the debt lost as much as $385 million under terms of the pre-packaged bankruptcy.  But, the company emerged from bankruptcy successfully, though it still had more than $70 million in debt on its balance sheet that included new second lien secured notes due in 2014.

In the past two years, Morris Publishing sold its building in Athens, GA, and its newspaper in Brainard, MN, as well as other moves to pay down the debt.
Under the bankruptcy agreement in 2010, Morris Publishing Group, LLC, continued to be wholly owned and controlled by the Morris family as it is today, headquartered in Augusta, GA.
Today, the company operates 11 daily newspapers, and a portfolio of other media holdings including weekly newspapers, digital websites and magazines, including Savannah Magazine.

The company underwent significant management and workforce restructure in the last four years, and have announced a focus on innovations in digital content delivery and management.


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