February 2, 2009 / 11:59 PM / in 9 years

Two newspaper publishers get more time from lenders

NEW YORK, Feb 2 (Reuters) - U.S. newspaper publishers AH Belo Corp (AHC.N) and Morris Publishing announced agreements with their lenders on Monday that give them more time to pay their debt even as advertising revenue falls.

AH Belo, publisher of The Dallas Morning News and The Providence Journal, altered its credit agreement with JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) and other lenders to give it until April 30, 2011 to pay its debt.

The company also gets a $50 million working capital facility as part of the deal, it said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Changing the terms gives the company extra time to pay debt as it and other U.S. newspapers bring in less money money because advertisers are cutting back budgets and chasing more customers on the Internet.

Morris Publishing, publisher of papers including The Topeka Capital-Journal in Kansas and The Augusta Chronicle in Georgia, got its loan terms changed after missing a $9.7 million interest payment on $278 million that was due on Feb. 9.

Under the agreement, Morris gets to stave off any default on the missed payment until March 3, the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Morris’s lenders, including JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), The Bank of New York [BKNYK.UL], SunTrust and General Electric Co’s (GE.N) Capital Corp GEA.N, also agreed to reduce the limit on loans available under a revolving credit facility to $60 million from $100 million.

    The credit line has $50 million outstanding, Morris said.

    Separately on Monday, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services downgraded its credit rating on Morris to “D” from “CCC.” S&P said it considers Morris to be in default because of the interest payment it missed.

    Morris hired Lazard Freres & Co last month as its financial adviser, along with law firm Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, to restructure the company because of its debt load.

    A spokesman for Morris could not be reached. (Reporting by Robert MacMillan and Emily Chasan; Editing by Andre Grenon)

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