No matter what the end result, Mr. Lang said he will no longer hold an equity position at the company.
UP TO 5 BIDS
The embattled publisher claimed he has received four bids and is entertaining a fifth.
But at least one company that was interested has had a change of heart.
"We're not involved in the bidding process," said David Pecker, CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Magazines.
NatWest is owed $15 million as principal lender, and the final price tag for the company would have to include that amount plus at least $5 million in new capital investment.
Time Inc. has written off the $10 million it is still owed on a note that came about in the early 1990s when a partnership with Lang was dissolved, insiders said.
Sandler Media is the other principal investor in the company, having pumped in $10 million in 1994.
Mr. Lang estimated there is probably about $1 million in unsecured debt, including payments to vendors and free-lancers.
"I'll not be continuing as an equity holder" in the new company, he said, ending a magazine publishing career that began nearly two decades ago.
LIKE DEJA VU
The frantic negotiations to save the company sound familiar to former employees of Sassy, who were laid off in late 1994 when the magazine was finally sold at auction to Petersen Publishing Co.
"We were always told that new financing plans were about to be put in place," said Linda Cohen, former publisher of Sassy and now publisher of Accessories. "We'd take that into the marketplace and when it didn't happen, our credibility was damaged."
The new owner subsequently laid off the entire staff.
"It was tragic," Mr. Lang said. "That's one reason I'm determined to get these magazines properly placed."