Seattle Times puts some new land up for collateral

by Bill Richards, Crosscut

In a move that was not wholly unexpected, the financially struggling Seattle Times said Sunday, Dec. 7, that to cut expenses it plans to immediately shrink its current four daily newspaper sections to three, eliminating a number of daily features, including the New York Times crossword puzzle and daily television listings. “I am in the truth-telling business,” Executive Editor David Boardman said in a signed column in the Times. “We are making these changes because we are reducing our two biggest newsroom expenses: staff and newsprint.”

The Seattle Times Co. is wrestling with shrinking revenues and circulation from its print paper, as are most other major urban papers. The Times Co. currently owes a consortium of banks $91 million, according to a financing agreement signed last week with Bank of New York Mellon, the consortium’s lead lender. The agreement, a deed of trust signed Dec. 1 by Times Co. president Carolyn Kelly and filed with King County, says the Times Co. owes its lenders at least $91 million and has agreed to put up three remaining parcels of its South Lake Union real estate holdings as collateral for the debt. Under the agreement, the banks will hold a lien on the land until the Times Co. debt is paid.

The Times Co. is also seeking to raise cash by cutting 150 jobs at The Seattle Times this month, selling additional real estate in South Lake Union, and selling its Blethen Maine newspaper subsidiary in Maine.

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