Friday, October 9, 2009

Deja Vu: Penton to Examine Its "Capital Structure"

Folio: is reporting that Penton Media is "reevaluating its capital structure." The company notified its staff that it was bringing in an outside firm to help it do the reevaluation.

Says Folio:

Wasserstein & Co. acquired the company in 2006 for $194.2 million, plus assumption and payment of debt, putting the total value of the deal at $530 million. One media M&A observer contacted by FOLIO: estimated that Penton’s debt today could be "close to $1 billion."
One billion dollars? Yikes. How will they ever dig out of that?

It all sounds familiar to me. I worked at Penton's Internet World magazine from early 2000 to mid-2003, when the print magazine was closed; I continued on as a freelance editor of a semi-monthly e-newsletter until I decided I needed an honest job and left. But for the last year or two of my time at Penton, there were constant stories about restructuring debt, bringing in new investment partners, rumors of sales, threats of being delisted from the stock exchange, etc. It was demoralizing then, and it did eventually lead to the company's sale (as noted in the quote above). But before that, there was a steady, quarter-by-quarter drain of talent as layoffs were needed every three months to appease the angry Wall Street gods. There was a lot of talent at that company, and it hurt to have it drained away.

One billion dollars? Well, I can't imagine it'll be any prettier this time. But good luck, Pentonites.

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