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BANKRUPTCY RULING CLEARS WAY FOR 'WORTH' SALE

Defunct Magazine May Be Purchased Within Days

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- A favorable ruling by a bankruptcy judge makes it likely that Worth Media and its personal finance magazine Worth will be purchased by CurtCo Media late this week, according to an executive close to the matter.

Worth Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy May 29. CurtCo's proposed deal for the now-defunct Worth, which has not published an issue since March, is for $2.4 million in cash and the assumption of some of the title's liabilities. In its bankruptcy filing, the company said that at the end of March, its total debt was $9.7 million and its total assets were $2.6 million.

No comment
A spokesman for CurtCo, which

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publishes the luxury title The Robb Report, declined to comment on the status of the pending deal, and on how or whether Worth would change under CurtCo ownership.

An individual familiar with the situation, though, suggested the title could be published as early as September. It was not immediately clear whether W. Randall Jones, the founder-CEO of Worth Media and the magazine's public face, would remain involved with the title or in what capacity.

Like a cockroach
The deal, should it go through, would lend more credence to what Mr. Jones told Adage.com about the title in late March: "Someone once said to me that Worth is like a New York City cockroach: You just can't kill it."

But Mr. Jones said that just after Worth laid off its entire staff of about 40, it was planning to rehire just over half of them and cut frequency so it would publish eight issues in 2003. (In 2002, it published 10.) But the company failed to produce what Publisher Mahesh Krishnamurti promised would be a combined April-May issue.

No employees
A line of the bankruptcy document filed in late May reads "The Company presently has no employees and it has suspended its publishing activities, pending the proposed sale" to CurtCo.

In a related filing, the company said that in March it "aggressively sought" a strategic partner or a purchaser and contacted, among others, The Economist Group, US News & World Report, Conde Nast Publications, Hearst Magazines and American Media. However, the filing reads, "none of those contacted parties were prepared to pursue either a financing or sale transaction" with Worth.

Worth suffered severely in the current economic downturn, which caused the closing of a number of financial-related titles, from Time Inc.'s Mutual Funds to Bloomberg Personal Finance. Through March, its ad pages fell 26.5% to 86.1. For the last half of 2002, its circulation fell 0.2% to 506,587, but its newsstand sales dropped 20.1%.

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