The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Morris Publishing Group said Tuesday that it has emerged from under bankruptcy protection.
A judge last month approved a prepackaged debt restructuring for the Georgia-based publisher of 13 daily newspapers, including The Augusta Chronicle and Savannah Morning News.
The company has spent the past year formulating a plan to shed $288.5 million in debt — or about 70 percent of its total of $415 million. The plan allows Morris' owners to keep control of the privately held company.
"Yesterday, we completed our formal debt restructuring, with Morris Publishing emerging with a significantly de-leveraged balance sheet," company chairman William S. Morris III, said in a statement.
Under the plan confirmed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court last month, about $278.5 million in bonds and accrued and unpaid interest has been canceled in exchange for $100 million in new secured notes due in 2014, according to Morris.
Morris Publishing has 1,847 full-time employees and 335 part-time workers.
The newspaper group was founded in the 1940s when William S. Morris Jr. purchased The Augusta Chronicle, where he began working as a bookkeeper in 1929. His grandson, William S. Morris IV, is Morris Publishing's CEO.
The company has daily newspapers in eight states — Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, South Carolina and Texas — as well as more than 60 non-daily newspapers and magazines. The Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville is the company's largest newspaper.