After Posting Another Loss, A.H. Belo to Shed People and Property
You will find here this morning several "arguments why A.H. Belo would be a good investment," among them "experienced and shareholders-aligned management" (meaning Belo's chairman, president and chief executive officer Robert Decherd) and its estimable catalog of valuable properties. The analysis comes on the morning A.H. Belo announced a net loss of $3.2 million in the second quarter -- news that will pale compared to Decherd's announcement to both shareholders and Belo employees that beginning today, the company -- which, of course, owns and operates The Dallas Morning News, The Providence Journal and The Press-Enterprise -- will offer buyouts to 500 full-time employees at its three newspapers, or 14 percent of the company's workforce. This is in addition to the 170 employees Decherd says Belo has shed in 2008 "through attrition and disciplined hiring practices."
Decherd says the process will last through September, after which point if Belo hasn't met is goal of 500 buyouts, there will be an "involuntary reduction-in-force." Decherd notes that Belo will also part with property in all three cities in which its has a newspaper -- but "especially Dallas and Providence." Decherd estimates the properties' sale will bring in some $35 million, "pre-tax." To the shareholders, he signs off thusly: "Like all start-up management teams, we have considered some fairly unorthodox ideas and constantly remind ourselves that we must make our own luck in this fast-changing world." And by unorthodox, I assume he still means Briefing, which Belo stubbornly refuses to kill before its ill-fated August 22 debut. To the employees, he writes: "I thank each and every member of the A. H. Belo team for your spirited responses to challenges none of us would choose to have to tackle." --Robert Wilonsky