Sun-Times Files for Bankruptcy

Only four months after the Chicago Tribune filing Chapter 11, the owners of the Chicago Sun-Times are also voluntarily filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The paper is hoping it can reorganize its operations, settle a tax liability and make itself suitable for sale, reports the paper.

According to Chairman Jeremy Halbreich the filing was a difficult, but essential decision so the company could “re-establish itself as a self-sustaining, profitable operation. That is worth fighting for.”

While this paper has been suffering during the economic downturn like many, it has the added burden of back taxes and penalties on its docket as well. The IRS claims the Sun-Times group owes roughly $608 million due to misconduct by their former controlling owner, Conrad Black, who is now imprisoned for theft of corporate coffers.

Sun-Times will continue talks with the IRS while implementing a “strong and impressive” business plan. It also will pursue a deal with buyers and has hired Rothschild Inc., which was involved in the bankruptcy of United Airlines’ owner, to field offers.

Several potential buyers have approached Halbreich since he took over Feb. 10 as chairman and interim chief executive, he said. “We’re very confident that there’s going to be some interest here,” he said. “We intend to start that process immediately.”

While this action was taken so that the company could continue paying their employees, the paper may be forced to reduce wages and benefits. And unlike the San Francisco Chronicle, who had to negotiate with their union before such a reduction could occur, this reduction could be imposed upon the union by the bankruptcy judge at his discretion.