Journal Register Co. to sell assets by April 17, could mean more than 800 jobs lost in Michigan

The Morning Sun's parent company, Journal Register Co., filed for bankruptcy in September and plans to sell its assets by April 17, laying off more than 840 employees in the process.

The hope is that the new owner, 21st CMH Acquisition Co., an affiliate fund managed by Alden Global Capital LLC, will rehire the staff and continue to operate the business.

A news release from JRC reports layoffs are on their way for 295 employees in operations, 156 in advertising, 131 in editorial, 125 in circulation and 137 in other positions.

It is unclear, for now, how The Morning Sun will be affected by this purchase agreement. Alden will have ultimate jurisdiction on the future of the newspaper.

“Journal Register Company’s leadership team cannot speak on behalf of the new owner but has continually expressed to the purchaser that a competent and competitive workforce is critical to the company’s success moving forward,” said Jonathan Cooper, vice president for media relations at Digital First Media.

The company owns four daily newspapers in Michigan: The Oakland Press, The Macomb Daily, Daily Tribune of Royal Oak and The Morning Sun, as well as weekly publications across the state under the names Advisor and Source Newspapers, Morning Star Publishing Co., Voice Newspapers and Heritage Newspapers.

JRC entered into an asset purchase agreement stemming from its bankruptcy. According to a Digital First Media press release, the Chapter 11 filing came with a debt of $162 million.

The agreement states the JRC is to sell substantially all of its assets and business operations. Upon closure of the sale, the company will consequentially discontinue operations and terminate all of its employees.

“From 2009-11, print advertising declined 19 percent, and print is more than half of Journal Register Company’s total revenue,” John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media said in a news release. "The Journal Register Company has made solid progress in its digital transformation in the last two years...But that transformation is threatened by a decline in print advertising revenue – the company’s largest revenue source – and legacy costs incurred when Journal Register Company’s total revenues were nearly twice the size it is today. Since 2009, the company’s pension liabilities grew 52 percent.”

Alden bid more than $122 million for the company, according to a Chicago Tribune article.

The Morning Sun Executive Editor Rick Mills declined comment Thursday on the number of jobs at risk specifically in Mount Pleasant.


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