Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Penton Media Heads for Bankruptcy Filing

My one-time employer, Penton Media, is going to file for a pre-packaged bankruptcy soon that will see it emerge from Chapter 11 status after 30 to 45 days shorn of $270 million in debt, reports Folio:.

Penton, a B2B publisher based in New York City, has had gob-smacking amounts of debt for years. When I worked there in 2000-2003 at its now-defunct Internet World magazine, the company went from record profits to staggering debt -- I believe it was on the order of $700 million, mainly from some bad bets it had made in the technology publishing and trade show arenas. (Its San Francisco-based Streaming Media title was a particularly heavy weight on the company, I was told.) Anyway, the company labored under that debt for a while, before finally restructuring and merging with another company that assumed the Penton name. (And if any of you have ever worked for a public company in trouble, you know about the quarterly need to feed some raw meat to the Wall Street lions, thus the four-times-yearly tension about which titles were closing or which staffers were being laid off.)

I don't know if the $270 million is a remnant of the $700 million, or if it's new debt. If the latter, then I'm not sure how they'll avoid running up another few hundred million in debt in the next five years. We'll see.

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