Trade Publisher Penton Files for Bankruptcy

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Penton Business Media Holdings Inc, a publisher of 113 trade magazines such as Ward’s AutoWorld, Restaurant Hospitality and National Hog Farmer, has filed for bankruptcy protection as part of a restructuring intended to eliminate $270 million of debt.

Wednesday’s filing came after Penton, like many other publishers, struggled with a decline in advertising spending as many readers shifted to digital media from print.

The privately held company is owned by MidOcean Partners, a New York private equity firm, and an investment fund sponsored by Wasserstein & Co, the buyout firm once controlled by Wall Street dealmaker Bruce Wasserstein, who died in October.

Penton is conducting a prepackaged reorganization with the support of its lenders, and which it said will result in a “significant” new investment from existing investors. The company expects to emerge from Chapter 11 within 30 days.

According to a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, Penton had $841 million of assets and $1.13 billion of liabilities as of Nov. 30.

Penton’s filing came after revenue fell 7.5 percent in 2008 and an estimated 26.2 percent in 2009, according to Chief Financial Officer Jean Clifton.

“The industry has witnessed a significant decrease in advertising budgets in the wake of the larger economy-wide recession,” Clifton said in a court filing. “Print media — the debtors’ primary business segment — is expected to experience a permanent downsizing.”

The company was created in 2006 when the owners bought Penton Media Inc for $194 million and combined it with Wasserstein’s Prism Business Media Holdings Inc.

Other investors include Lexington Partners, Blackrock Kelso Capital Corp and Apollo Investment Corp (AINV.O), a court filing shows.

Penton said its advisors include Rothschild Inc and the law firm Jones Day.

The case is In re: Penton Business Media Holdings Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 10-10689. (Reporting by Archana Shankar in Bangalore and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter and Lisa Von Ahn)