Sunday, July 19, 2009

Quebecor World Ready To Abandon "Novink" and Bankruptcy Protection

Quebecor World will exit from bankruptcy protection this coming week, but not under the widely reported name "Novink," according to a company official.

"We will exit in the coming week," the official told Dead Tree Edition today, taking issue with my article from two days ago suggesting that the company's bankruptcy reorganization has been delayed.

It's true that nothing in the court documents describing the July 27 hearing about the "$1 press" says that the hearing must be held before Quebecor World can exit from bankruptcy protection. It is common in Chapter 11 cases to have some individual claims settled after the company exits from bankruptcy protection, someone pointed out.

Given Quebecor World's size and apparent value, none of the claims to be resolved in the bankruptcy case seems large enough to be a show stopper. And nothing says Quebecor World will close up shop or turn into a pumpkin if its reorganization is not consummated by midnight Tuesday, when its debtor-in-possession financing is set to expire. Financing deals can be extended.

Responding to customer feedback, Quebecor World has decided not to rename itself Novink when it emerges from bankruptcy protection, the official said. Some reports indicated the name was to be prounounced "new-vink" as a bilingual combination of "nouveau" and "ink".

It seems that the name was about as popular as le turd dans le punchbowl, if you follow my attempt at combining French and English. (Perhaps QW officials were concerned that French-challenged Americans would mispronounce the name as "Newsweek", which according to Gawker has not exactly been a model of humane or rational management the past few days.)

What is clear is that this is a complex case involving scores of subsidiaries and pension plans, as well as the coordination of bankruptcy courts and laws in the U.S. and Canada. That complexity has often confounded observers, such as those of us who thought R. R. Donnelley's first "stalking-horse" bid was a slam dunk because we overlooked the critical issue of timing.

What also seems clear is that the company will be free of much that weighed it down before its Chapter 11 filing, including a heavy debt load and its money-losing European operation. And the choice of Mark A. Angelson, the acquisition-minded former Donnelley CEO, to become chairman of the new company suggests that things could get interesting for the North American printing industry.

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