Avista-backed Thompson Publishing files for bankruptcy

The publishing company is Avista’s second media-focused portfolio company to go bankrupt since the collapse of Star Tribune in January 2009.

Avista Capital Partners-backed Thompson Publishing has collapsed into bankruptcy under a heavy debt load, according to a bankruptcy petition filed Tuesday.

Thompson Publishing, which specialises in material regarding laws and regulatory mandates, reportedly has assets between $10 million and $50 million and liabilities between $100 million and $500 million.

Avista acquired a 50 percent stake in Thompson from MidOcean Partners in January 2007. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed, but a source close to the deal said the transaction value was approximately $200 million. Avista doubled-up on the investment by buying another 50 percent from DLJ Growth Capital, a Credit Suisse private equity fund, for $130 million in July 2008.

Thompson Publishing's collapse marks the second media company bankruptcy for Avista since Star Tribune went under in January 2009. At the time, Star Tribune had $493 million is assets and liabilities of $661 million. Avista Capital Partners purchased the company from newspaper conglomerate McClatchy Company in 2007, contributing roughly $105 million in equity as part of the $530 million takeover. Star Tribune, which owns the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the 15th largest daily newspaper in the US, emerged from bankruptcy in October 2009 under the control of its lenders, which include Angelo Gordon, Credit Suisse, GE Capital, CIT Group and Wayzata Investment Partners. 

Avista made headlines last month by teaming up with The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan to acquire US-based INC Research, a clinical research organization. The financial details were not disclosed, but a source familiar with the deal told PEO the transaction was valued at slightly under $600 million.

Also in August, Avista sold a substantial portion of its Marcellus Shale mineral rights in Pennsylvania to Reliance Industries for $326 million.

Avista makes controlling and minority investments, primarily in U.S.-based companies, in connection with leveraged buyouts, build-ups and growth financings. The firm focuses primarily on the energy, healthcare and media sectors.