Report: Freedom Communications To File for Bankruptcy

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Freedom Communications Inc, owner of the Orange County Register newspaper, is expected to declare bankruptcy this week, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Freedom, which has been majority owned for more than 70 years by the Hoiles family, has reached agreements with its lenders to restructure its debts, the newspaper reported in its online edition. The lenders include JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N), SunTrust and Union Bank of California.

Freedom, owner of the Orange Country Register and more than 30 other daily newspapers and eight television stations, will continue to operate under bankruptcy protection, the report said.

“We are continuing to work with our lenders to address our balance sheet,” a Freedom spokesman told The Wall Street Journal. Neither Freedom nor the banks involved could not be immediately reached for comment.

Private-equity firms Blackstone Group (BX.N) and Providence Equity Partners had acquired a 40 percent equity stake in Freedom in 2004 for about $460 million. Both firms have written down the value of the deal, the newspaper said.