Reader’s Digest parent company files for bankruptcy again

Copies of the Reader's Digest magazines are seen in Port Washington

The owner of magazine Reader’s Digest, once the staple of doctors’ offices and coffee tables, has filed for bankruptcy for the second time in less than four years, citing a greater-than-expected decline of the print media industry.

RDA Holding Co and more than two dozen affiliates filed for a pre-negotiated Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan the company says will allow it to reduce its $534 million debt load by 80 percent, according to documents filed Sunday in U.S. Bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York.

Its international operations are not part of the filing.

It is the second time the company filed for bankruptcy protection since 2009.

Despite emerging from bankruptcy as a smaller company in 2010, “itsbusiness plan and financial forecasts did not adequately account for the steep declines that the media industry has suffered over the last few years — as evidenced by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company’s recent return to Chapter 11,” Robert Guth, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said in court documents.

Nor did the company’s plan “adequately reflect the fragility of RDA’s wide-reaching international footprint,” Guth said.

Under the terms of the restructuring plan, $464.4 million of its senior notes will convert to equity, leaving the company with $100 million in debt.

Wells Fargo & Co and holders of its senior secured notes have agreed to $105 million in debtor-in-possession financing to allow the company to continue operating under bankruptcy. The company plans to exit bankruptcy within four months, court documents say.

DeWitt Wallace and his wife Lila Acheson Wallace founded Reader’s Digest in 1922. The magazine offered readers stripped-down versions of articles about health, home and family from other publications. It eventually began the best-selling consumer magazine in the United States. Today it operates print and digital magazines, books, music and videos worldwide and has more than $1.1 billion in assets, according to court documents.

Distressed-debt investor Alden Global Capital and hedge fund Point Lobos Capital LLC are listed as among the company’s largest stakeholders, according to the filing. Luxor Capital Group, as administrative agent for a $10 million loan, is listed as one of its largest unsecured creditors.

Report by Reuters.

TARIKH TAMAT PENYERAHAN MANUSKRIP PERTANDINGAN EBUKU DI PANJANGKAN

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Berdasarkan permintaan ramai, Pertandingan eBuku 2013 telah memanjangkan tarikh tutup penyerahan manuskrip kepada 15hb Mac 2013 daripada 28hb Februari 2012. Oleh yang demikian, peserta atau bakal peserta masih ada tiga minggu untuk menghasilkan manuskrip untuk pertandingan. Antara syarat-syarat manuskrip adalah: fiksyen, 10,000 perkataan atau lebih, penulisan asli.

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Adakah Microsoft akan membeli Nokia tidak lama lagi?

Spekulasi telah timbul sekali lagi bahawa 2013 akan menjadi tahun dimana Microsoft mengambil alih Nokia.
Pernah dilaporkan sebelum ini bahawa Microsoft telah menilai pembelian syarikat Finland ini, tetapi telah memutuskan keputusan negatif. Microsoft juga dilaporkan telah membuat pendekatan pada tahun 2011, tetapi telah ditangguhkan oleh perakaunan Nokia yang sememangnya tidak memberangsangkan.

Ini adalah lumrah dunia teknologi tinggi, dan faktor-faktor untuk Microsoft kelihatan sangat berbeza sekarang. Pertimbangkan apa yang telah berlaku dalam beberapa bulan lepas. Pembangunan yang paling relevan telah melepaskan Windows 8, dalam realiti tiga sistem operasi yang berbeza untuk tiga platform yang berbeza, tetapi dengan wajah yang sama dan pengalaman yang tiada beze. Salah satu platform ini adalah kursus untuk telefon, Windows 8 RT, dan Nokia adalah telah dimaklumkan sebagai pembekal perkakasan utama.

Baru-baru ini Microsoft telah menghulurkan bantuan pinjaman yang dihulurkan kepada DELL , syarikat hardware komputer gergasi, kami jangkakan bahawa Microsoft akan melakukan perkara yang sama untuk Nokia. Secara logik, Microsoft tidak mungkin akan membeli syarikat veteran yang sudah tenat, tetapi mungkin akan memberi bantuan supaya Nokia boleh membantu kemajuan perisian Microsoft.

RIP e-book readers? Rise of tablets drives e-reader drop

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The rapid rise of tablets  is driving the e-book reader market to an equally rapid fall, according to a new study.

 

IHS iSuppli said that after “spectacular” growth during the past few years, the e-book reader market is now on an “alarmingly precipitous decline,” all thanks to the growing popularity of tablets.

 

How alarming? Well, the firm predicts that shipments of e-book readers will tumble 36 percent this year to 14.9 million units and then drop another “drastic” 27 casino online percent next year to 10.9 million units. By 2016, IHS iSuppli predicts, the e-book reader market will total just 7.1 million units, equal to a loss of more than two-thirds from its peak volume in 2011.

According to Jordan Selburn, senior principal analyst for consumer platforms at IHS iSuppli:

 

The rapid growth — followed by the immediate collapse — of the ebook reader market is virtually unheard of, even in the volatile consumer electronics space, where products have notoriously short life cycles. The stunning rise and then blazing flameout of ebooks perfectly encapsulate what has become an axiomatic truth in the industry: Single-task devices like the ebook reader are being replaced without remorse in the lives of consumers by their multifunction equivalents, in this case by media tablets.

 

By comparison, the electronics industry should ship 120 million tablets this year and 340 million by 2016 — a magnitude of sales exceeded only by mobile phones.

 

Source: CNET Consumer Tech News

Macmillan settles e-book lawsuit, leaving Apple as lone defendant

Apple ebook pricing

The U.S. Justice Department and Macmillan have reached a settlement over the antitrust lawsuit relating to e-book pricing, which means book retailers will now be able to discount the digital titles of all major publishers in the U.S.

Macmillan is the last of five major publishers to settle the suit filed against them by the Justice Department last year. Three publishers settled in April, while a fourth, Penguin Group, settled in December. Penguin took the step in advance of its planned merger with Bertelsmann’s Random House publishing unit, which is expected to be completed later this year.

The agreement Friday leaves Apple as the only remaining defendant outstanding in the government’s lawsuit. A spokeswoman for Apple declined to comment.

The suit alleged the publishers and Apple colluded to raise e-book prices at a time when Amazon.com was selling new digital best sellers for only $9.99. The government suit said e-book best-seller prices rose to $12.99 and $14.99 following the alleged collusion.

The publishers and Apple denied the allegations.
Source: FOX News

Dell to go private in landmark $24.4 billion deal

File photograph of Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell displaying a Dell tablet computer in San Francisco

 

Michael Dell will take Dell Inc private for $24.4 billion in the biggest leveraged buyout since the financial crisis, a deal that allows the billionaire chief executive to attempt a revival of his struggling computer company without Wall Street scrutiny.

The deal, which requires shareholder approval, would end a 24-year run on public markets for a company that was conceived in a college dorm room and quickly rose to the top of the global personal computer business – only to be rendered an also-ran over the past decade as PC prices crumbled and customers moved to tablets and smartphones.

Dell executives said on Tuesday that the company will stick to a strategy of expanding its software and services offerings for large companies, with the goal of becoming a full-service provider of corporate computing services in the mold of the highly profitable IBM. They downplayed speculation that Dell might spin off the low-margin PC business on which it made its name.

Dell did not give specifics on what it would do differently as a private entity to convince skeptics who say it missed the big industry shift to tablet computers, smartphones and high-powered consumer electronic devices such as music players and gaming consoles. Sources with knowledge of the matter said Dell’s board had considered everything from a recapitalization to a breakup of the company before going the leveraged buyout route, but did not elaborate.

“A private Dell is likely to more aggressively cut costs, in our view. But we think merely restructuring only postpones the inevitable, creating a value trap,” said Discern Inc analyst Cindy Shaw. “Dell needs to do more than reduce its cost structure. It needs to innovate.”

The deal will be financed with cash and equity from Michael Dell, cash from private equity firm Silver Lake, a $2 billion loan from Microsoft Corp, and debt financing from a consortium of banks. The price of $13.65 per share represents a 25 percent premium over Dell’s stock price before news of a pending deal leaked in January.

The company will now conduct a 45-day “go-shop” process in which others might make higher offers.

“Though we were hoping for a higher price, we trust that the Dell board has properly done its job by conducting a process open to any third party offers and reviewing all strategic options,” said Bill Nygren, who manages the $7.3 billion Oakmark Fund and $3.2 billion Oakmark Select Fund, which have a $250 million position in Dell. “Should we hear evidence to the contrary, we’ll raise a ruckus.”

Some of Dell’s rivals took pot shots at the deal, in unusually pointed comments that reflect how bitter the struggle is in a commoditized PC industry that has wrestled to reverse a decline in sales globally.

Hewlett-Packard Co, which itself has suffered years of turmoil in the face of challenges in the PC business, said in a statement that Dell’s deal would “leave existing customers and innovation at the curb,” and vowed to exploit the opportunity.

Lenovo, which consists largely of the former IBM PC unit, referred to the “distracting financial maneuvers and major strategic shifts,” of its rival while emphasizing its own stability and strong financial position.

Dell was regarded as a model of innovation as recently as the early 2000s, pioneering online ordering of custom-configured PCs and working closely with Asian component suppliers and manufacturers to assure rock-bottom production costs. But as of 2012’s fourth quarter, Dell’s share of the global PC market had slipped to just above 10 percent from 12.5 percent a year earlier as its shipments dived 20 percent, according to research house IDC.

Michael Dell returned to the company as CEO in 2007 after a brief hiatus, but has been unable to engineer a turnaround thus far. Dell’s focus on corporate computing in recent years has yet to yield results – and critics note competing successfully against incumbents, including IBM and HP, will not be easy no matter what the corporate structure.

Sales of PCs still make up the majority of Dell’s revenues. Analysts say continued restructuring to focus on the corporate market may entail job cuts and more costly acquisitions. The company has acquired several large software and services companies in recent years as it seeks to reconfigure itself as a broad-based supplier of technology for big companies.

“We recognize this process will take more time,” Chief Financial Officer Brian Gladden told Reuters. “We will have to make investments, and we will have to be patient to implement the strategy. And under a new private company structure, we will have time and flexibility to really pursue and realize the end-to-end solutions strategy.”

Gladden said the company’s strategy would “generally remain the same” after the deal closed, but “we won’t have the scrutiny and limitations associated with operating as a public company.”

Michael Dell, who has quietly built a highly successful investment firm even as the fortunes of his namesake company have waned, will contribute his 16 percent share of Dell’s equity to the deal, along with cash from his MSD Capital. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Credit Suisse and RBC Capital Markets will offer debt financing.

Shares of Dell were up 1.2 percent at $13.43 in morning trading.

RECORD BUYOUT

Analysts said Dell could be more nimble as a private company, but it will still have to deal with the same difficult market conditions. IBM’s famously successful transition from hardware vendor to corporate IT partner took place while it was trading on public markets.

There is little history to suggest whether going private makes such a transition easier. Freescale, formerly the semiconductor division of Motorola, was taken private in 2006 for $17.6 billion by a group of private equity firms including Blackstone Group LP, Carlyle Group and TPG Capital LP. Analysts say the resulting debt load hurt its ability to compete in the capital-intensive chip business. Freescale cut just under 5 percent of its work force last year as it continued to restructure.

The Dell deal would be the biggest private equity-backed, leveraged buyout since Blackstone Group LP’s takeout of the Hilton Hotels Group in July 2007 for more than $20 billion, and is the 11th-largest on record.

The parties expect the transaction to close before the end of Dell’s 2014 second quarter, which ends in July. News of the talks first emerged on January 14, although they reportedly started in the latter part of 2012. Michael Dell had previously acknowledged thinking about going private as far back as 2010.

Microsoft’s involvement in the deal piqued much speculation about a renewed strategic partnership, but the software company is providing only debt financing and Dell said there were no specific business terms attached to the transaction. Dell has long been loyal to Microsoft’s Windows operating system, which has been at the heart of its PC business since its inception.

Microsoft’s loan will take the form of a 10-year subordinated note that will be the “closest thing to equity,” with roughly 7 percent to 8 percent interest, a source close to the matter told Reuters.

Banking sources said the debt financing package for the deal will total between $11 billion and $12 billion to back the leveraged buyout. The final size of the financing depends on what portion of the company’s existing notes remain outstanding, sources added. The banks are expected to begin reaching out to other lenders to begin syndicating the loans as early as Tuesday.

J.P. Morgan and Evercore Partners were financial advisers, and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP was the legal adviser to the special committee of Dell’s board. Goldman Sachs was financial adviser, and Hogan Lovells was legal adviser to Dell.

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz was legal adviser to Michael Dell. BofA Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Credit Suisse and RBC Capital Markets were financial advisers to Silver Lake, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP was its legal adviser.

News source: Thompson Reuters

MAY THE YEAR OF SNAKE BRINGS MORE PROSPERITY FOR EVERYONE

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eSentral would like to wish everyone especially our Chinese users, friends, and partners, a very Happy New Year. May the year of Snake brings more prosperity and happiness for all of us. Wishing everyone a safe trip back to hometown and holiday destination, as well as safe trip coming back to our routines. GONG XI FA CAI!