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Key piece of Alaska Dispatch News bankruptcy case delayed

  • Author: Annie Zak
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published August 18, 2017

John Binkley leaves an Alaska Dispatch News bankruptcy hearing on Friday at the Old Federal Building downtown. In back at left Bob Kaufman chats with new co-publisher Ryan Binkley, John’s son. (Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News)

A judge on Friday afternoon delayed a crucial decision about whether to approve a loan of up to $1 million from potential buyers to keep Alaska's largest newspaper operating as it goes through bankruptcy court.

At a federal bankruptcy court hearing, Judge Gary Spraker allowed Alaska Dispatch News LLC, Binkley Co. LLC — the group poised to buy the newspaper — and Northrim Bank more time to reach an agreement on the loan. Northrim has its own multimillion-dollar loan on Alaska Dispatch News.

The hearing will continue Monday afternoon.

Other key items that are set to be addressed are motions by ADN to pay its employees their Aug. 25 paychecks and their past-due health insurance premiums.

Alaska Dispatch News LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Saturday. A group led by businesspeople Ryan Binkley of Fairbanks and Jason Evans of Anchorage offered to buy the operation.

Binkley and Evans are the new publishers while former publisher Alice Rogoff still owns the business.

Though the main loan issue was left unresolved Friday, the court and Northrim allowed ADN to use $50,000 from its bank account to pay workers' compensation insurance premiums, employee reimbursements for things like cellphone bills and mileage, and other "small, but nevertheless important things, like postage," that are needed for day-to-day operations, said ADN attorney Cabot Christianson.

The Municipality of Anchorage is also seeking assurances that any deal to save ADN takes into account more than $56,000 in taxes on such personal property as desks, equipment and supplies. The city said in a court filing that the company didn't mention those taxes in the pending loan agreement.

"All we're doing is saying, don't forget about us, we have a place in the line too," said Bill Falsey, city attorney.

ADN is losing money by the minute and owes vendors more than $2.5 million. The company lost $4 million in the first half of this year, company officials have said.