'Rival Bidders Tour UPI Facilities

Here's a story by Andrew Radolf from the Nov. 28, 1987 edition of Editor & Publisher:


Speculation that United Press International's new owner, Mexican publisher Mario Vasquez Rana wants to sell the financially troubled news service was fueled in recent weeks when executive teams from Financial News Network toured UPI facilities.

The FNN teams visited both UPI's news and business headquarters in Washington, D.C., and its computer center in Dallas.

FNN had been the main rival during UPI's Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and dropped out of contention only after receiving $350,000 in cash from Vasquez in an out-of-court settlement.

FNN also acquired from UPI most of its 45 percent holdings in Comtext, a publisher of electronic business information which owns the right to repackage UPI material for electronic databanks.

According to a source close to Vasquez, the new UPI owner and FNN chairman, Earl Brian, became "good friends" once their legal battles ended. He said that Vazquez had invited the FNN teams to visit UPI in order to seek their advice on how to cut UPI's communication costs.

The FNN teams that visited Dallas asked particularly pointed questions about the news service's operations, and that sparked rumors that a sale was in the works, the aide said.

A spokesman for FNN gave basically the same account, saying UPI approached FNN for its communications expertise.

UPI is reported to be losing at least $1 million a month, and Vasquez has stated several times in the past that the news service's losses were more than he expected when he took over in June 1986.

In a recent memo, Vasquez also hinted that UPI will need more layoffs, but hte owner was not specific about numbers.