Questex Files for Chapter 11 Pursuant to the Sale of the Company

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Newton, MA – Questex Media Group Holdings, Inc., owned by the private equity firm Audax Group, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of a plan to restructure the company’s debt in advance to a Section 363 sale. The company had assets of $299 million and liabilities of $321 million in its filings, according to published reports. The largest single unsecured claim was $56.6 million in bank debt.

Details of the Section 363 sale were not immediately available, but Questex said operations would continue normally during the bankruptcy proceedings and the management team would remain in place.

According to the October 5 announcement, a group of Questex’s senior lenders would “enter into an agreement to serve as a ‘stalking horse’ for a purchase of substantially all of the assets of the company pursuant to a 363 sale.” The sale process was expected to be completed within 60 days. In bankruptcies, a stalking horse serves to initiate bidding among other potential buyers. Key benefits of a 363 sale include:

  • The purchaser receives the assets free and clear of liens and encumbrances.
  • The director and officers avoid exposure.

The downsides include:

  • Negative publicity that can impact business operations.
  • Timing – a sale outside of bankruptcy can be executed faster and more economically than a sale in bankruptcy.

(For more information on the pros and cons of a 363 sale and stalking horse, an excellent source can be found at http://library.findlaw.com/2004/Oct/27/133620.html)

Questex CEO Kerry Gumas said the plan had the support of his integrated media company’s lenders and business partners. The plan includes debtor-in-possession financing and exit financing that will strengthen the company’s overall financial structure and enable operations to proceed without interruption.

Questex was formed in 2005 when the Audax Group paid $185 million in cash to acquire the print, web and event business from Advanstar in the following sectors:  Information Technology & Communications, Travel & Hospitality, Beauty, Home Entertainment, and Abilities and Portfolio groups. These products generated about $100 million in revenues in 2004 for Advanstar,  nearly one fourth of the firm’s total 2004 revenues.  (Read more at http://www.tradeshowexecutive.com/TheVault_main.asp?id=173)

The portfolio of Questex Media Group includes 45 trade shows, conferences and events, as well as 100 websites and publications. Operations outside of the U.S. are not included in the Chapter 11 filing.

Reach Kerry Gumas at (617) 219-8300 or kgumas@questex.com