Private equity investments not enough to help F+W Media

Private equity backers spent close to $150 million to save struggling 106-year-old F+W Media — but as the company this week winds down its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the bigmoney players have also emerged as the biggest losers.

In the latest fire sale emerging from the bankruptcy, Penguin Random House on Monday finalized a $5.6 million deal for F+W’s 2,000-title US books division, which boasts titles “The Crystal Bible” by Judy Hall and the freelancers’ bible, “Writer’s Market.”

That brings the total amount F+W has raised in its going-out-of-business sale to only $13.35 million. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, listing debts of over $105.2 million.

Among the private equity players, Fortress Capital lost an estimated $50 million, Tinicum Capital, lost about $45 million, while Arbor Lane and Apollo Global Management invested and lost about $20 million each, according to a reliable source close to the company.

The bankruptcy filed in March of this year wiped out the equity holders.

“My goal going into the Chapter 11 was to sell every entity rather than liquidate, and we did that,” said Greg Osberg, who came aboard as CEO in 2018. “And we wanted to save as many of the jobs as possible and we did that,” Osberg said.

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