Orange County Register

A bidding war may be emerging for the Orange County Register. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Andrew Khouri
December 14, 2015

A federal judge has approved a $4.5-million loan that will allow the Orange County Register to operate during bankruptcy — setting the stage for a possible bidding war by an insider group and the owners of the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News.

The approval, which came Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana, allows hedge fund Silver Point Capital to provide so-called debtor-in-possession financing to Register owner Freedom Communications, which plans to sell its assets in a court auction.

Tribune Publishing, the owner of the Los Angeles Times, which has said it expects to bid for Freedom’s assets, also had offered to fund the Santa Ana publisher through bankruptcy.

Tribune matched a previous $3-million loan offer from Silver Point, saying the hedge fund’s financing proposal had too many strings attached and would have benefited the insider group looking to purchase Freedom.

But Tribune dropped its objections when Silver Point, a major Freedom creditor, upped its loan offer by $1.5 million. In court documents, Tribune said the new loan contained “substantial improvements” and that it received assurances from Freedom, Silver Point and a committee representing unsecured creditors that a “robust and fair sale process” would occur.

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