No resolution in ADN bankruptcy as Northrim seeks more time

A Friday bankruptcy hearing for the Alaska Dispatch News was continued until Aug. 21 after attorneys for Northrim Bank sought more time to strike a new loan agreement with owner Alice Rogoff.

At issue is the $10 million balance on a $13 million loan Rogoff took out in 2015 with Northrim Bank to buy the Anchorage Daily News.

Before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Alaska Division can proceed forward to authorize Rogoff’s proposal to save the Dispatch from the brink of closure, the largest creditor needs assurances through new collateral.

The loan’s current collateral, the assets of the Alaska Dispatch News, will be assigned to the prospective new owners, Binkley Co., in what is called a super primary lien. This would put the Binkley Co., at the head of the line, in front of Northrim, as well as Rogoff’s landlords GCI and Arctic Partners, and contractors such as M&M Wiring Services who is owed nearly $500,000.

Cabot Christianson, the bankruptcy attorney representing the ADN, told Judge Gary Spraker at Friday’s hearing that Northrim has more work to do on its new contract with Rogoff.

“We need another day to wrap that up,” Christianson said. “Northrim needs signatures to a document just created.”

Michael Parise, the bank’s attorney, told Spraker that he is “close but not there yet” in finalizing a new loan contract with Rogoff.

All three of Rogoff’s original motions are now continued to Monday. On the table are a Debtor in Possession Loan Agreement and approval to use cash collateral, permission to pay the employees’ insurance premiums and authorization to pay wages and carriers.

In bankruptcy, Rogoff needs court approval before spending her account receivables money on bills – money from ads, subscriptions and commercial printing.

Next week’s payroll will need to go out, Christianson told Spraker.

“The case needs to be wrapped up soon,” he said, in order to authorize payments for everything from paychecks to postage stamps.

“You’ll need to be patient, which is not a bad thing,” Spraker told the court gathering, addressing the attorneys there representing clients owed the largest unsecured debts totaling about $2.5 million, Rogoff estimates.

Court for the bankruptcy resumes at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 21. That morning, at 10 a.m., Alaska Superior Court will hear the case of GCI’s motion to evict the Alaska Dispatch News from the building housing its printing press on Northway Drive.

Rogoff filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Aug. 12, one day after GCI moved to evict the newspaper as a tenant. The iconic building that still proclaims the Anchorage Daily News banner was constructed 33 years ago around the three-story printing press. GCI bought the building for $15 million as part of Rogoff’s $34 million purchase of the Anchorage Daily News with the understanding between both parties that the ADN would move its printing press operation elsewhere by November 2015.

Soon after the bankruptcy was filed, Rogoff announced to her staff that new owners were in the planning stages for taking over the newspaper ownership. The buyers are four siblings – Ryan Binkley, James Binkley, Kai Binkley Sims and Jason Evans. The Binkleys are fourth-generation Alaskans from the pioneering riverboat family in Fairbanks while Evans is owner of four newspapers in the Arctic, Bristol Bay, Homer Tribune and Dutch Harbor. Evans also is president of Rural Energy Enterprises and Financial Inc., a business-consulting firm.

The motion filed Aug. 15, if granted, would allow Rogoff to proceed with the sale to the Binkleys and Evans. But the sale of the Alaska Dispatch won’t be a clear hand-over from buyer to seller. Stages outlined in Rogoff’s bankruptcy filings ask Federal Judge Gary Spraker to first allow a lump sum payment of $350,000 from the Binkleys/Evans to Rogoff, and a $200,000 thereafter in weekly payments up to $1 million to settle the most immediate debts.

GCI attorneys say they are close to an agreement to continue to rent to the new operators at the ADN.

But to date, the Municipality of Anchorage, owed $56,516 has opposed the sale. Attorney Wayne Dawson, representing M&M Wiring, also has questioned the deal.

So far, no mention has been made of how the creditors, other than Northrim and GCI, will be repaid the debts owed them, at least, in the court proceedings or filings to date.

08/18/2017 - 5:21pm