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10. Lee Enterprises

Assets: $1.15 billion
Employees: 6,200
Bankruptcy date: Dec. 12

Lee Enterprises is a newspaper publisher in the United States, producing over 40 dailies in 23 states across the country, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Founded in 1890, Lee, whose alumni include Mark Twain, has been struggling with falling advertising revenue and declining readership — two issues plaguing the entire newspaper industry.

The company also faces a high level of debt, partly brought on by its acquisition in 2005 of another publishing house, Pulitzer. Lee paid almost $1.5 billion for the company founded by Joseph Pulitzer, who created the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism and Literature.

The Pulitzer deal was funded largely through debt, which Lee expected to roll forward periodically, according to The Des Moines Register. However, the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008 made refinancing difficult.

Earlier this year, Lee tried to repay its loans and push back its maturities via a junk bond sale. However, the company had to scrap the plan due to poor market conditions, according to Dow Jones.

Loaded with $1 billion in debt that matures in April 2012, Lee filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to work with its creditors on extending debt repayments until the end of 2015.

With most of Lee’s creditors on board with its refinancing plans, it hopes to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy within 60 days of the filing. The company said in a statement that the bankruptcy would have no impact on its business and the production of its newspapers.

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