Barrington Broadcasting Defaults

Station group makes S&P hit list
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Station group makes S&P hit list

HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILL.: Barrington Broadcasting defaulted Friday, according to Standard & Poor’s. Barrington. The company owns and/or operates around 23 small-market TV stations that posted increased revenues for 2008, but still lost $39 million for the year, not factoring in an expected a $50 million impairment charge. Barrington had $303 million in debt at the end of 2008; assets totaled $323 million, and cash and equivalents stood at around $29 million. The company was created six years ago by former Benedeck Broadcasting executives James Yager and Chris Cornelius.

Barrington was one of five corporations that defaulted last week, The Wall Street Journal said, and one of four that were distressed-debt exchanges. Barrington’s sole shareholder, Bob Pittman’s Pilot Group LP, injected $16 million into the TV station business Feb. 20. Some of the money was used to buy back 10.5 percent senior notes due 2014 at an 88 percent discount in an effort to renegotiate loan terms.

The total number of corporate defaults now stands at 92 companies for the year--four times the number of companies that had defaulted by this time last year. U.S. companies account for 66 of the total, including last week’s five: Barrington, Emmis, Hexion Specialty Chemicals, NTK Holdings and Dayton Superior, a building materials company that filed for bankruptcy. -- Deborah D. McAdams