Thursday, August 20, 2009

AJC revives practice of white slavery, then retracts

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 2:49 PM

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Some headline writer at the AJC had fun with today's article about the impending CL bankruptcy auction. Before it was corrected, the headline read thusly:

Yes, that's right — apparently, CL president Ben Eason and his two sisters will also be going on the auction block next week. Do we hear $1,000? Who'll give me $1,500?

The online headline has since been changed to read:

"Creative Loafing chain up for auction," which is more accurate, if less amusing.

Anyway, kidding aside, the article portrays the auction as a showdown between Eason and the company's main creditor, Atalaya Capital Management, an Atlanta-based investment fund. Those who've breathlessly followed this ongoing saga will recall that, last month, all parties agreed to end the bankruptcy proceedings with a so-called equity auction in which the newspaper chain would be sold to a qualified bidder who provides the best combination of money and a suitable management plan. The auction is scheduled for next Tuesday, Aug. 25, in a Tampa courtroom.

The big question is: How much will management savvy count against buckets of cash? Here's Eason's take, as quoted from the AJC story:

“I think we are absolutely the best bid. Any bid has got to have cash, management and know-how, and be in a position to run the business and pay off debt. We have all of that.”

But in the other corner is Atalaya managing partner Michael Bogdan:

“We are going to come into court with a bid we believe will prevail. And if somebody starts with higher bid, we are absolutely willing to raise our bid.”

In other words, money talks. So far, Eason and Atalaya are the only known bidders, but today is the deadline for other bidders to come forward and rumors are circling that there will be others entering the fray. I think I speak for most employees when I say that, for us worker bees, closure cannot come fast enough. Once the auction dust has settled, CL should be out of bankruptcy. Whatever happens next, most of us are eager to bid adieu to this cloud of uncertainty.

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