1992 Story on Pat Robertson's Bid for UPI

Here's a June 10, 1992, story from UPI on TV evangelist Pat Robertson's bid to buy the news agency:

UPI Doesn't Know Whether Robertson Will Go Through With Purchase

WASHINGTON (AP) - Employees at United Press International said they were in the dark as to whether the 85-year-old news service would have its fourth new owner in 10 years.

Pat Robertson, owner of the Christian Broadcasting Network, made a tentative $6 million bid for UPI last month, pending a further look at the wire service's books, and his office said he would announce a decision at a news conference here today.

The wire service has been losing money for three decades and now owes its creditors $60 million.

Robertson's offer was accepted May 14 by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Francis Conrad, who oversaw the news agency's bankruptcy reorganization. The broadcaster was given 30 days, expiring Friday, to review the books and decide whether to go ahead with the purchase.

Dennis O'Dea, a lawyer for the UPI creditors' committee, said in a telephone interview from New York early today that "it's clear (Robertson) is not going to buy the entire company or pay the entire $6 million."

He said "we're quite troubled by that" because the creditors had been barred by the bankruptcy court from trying to shop the company themselves during the 30-day period.

While unsure of exactly what Robertson planned to do, O'Dea said: "It looks as though the deal that was struck . . . is not going to close."

Robertson has expressed special interest in UPI's overseas operations, particularly in Asia and Latin America, and its radio network.

Steve Geimann, executive vice president of UPI, said Tuesday, "To my knowledge at this hour, (Robertson) has not informed us of what his decision is."

Frankie Abourjilie, vice president for public relations at CBN in Virginia Beach, Va., declined to discuss what Robertson would say.

"I really can't tell you the context," Abourjilie said. "He's going to say whether he's buying it or not."

In addition to CBN, Robertson is the founder of The Family Channel on cable television. He has said he would not attempt to make UPI a religious news service.

CBN already has a news operation, and Robertson's trademark talk show, "The 700 Club," includes news reports.

CBN is a non-profit company, but UPI would be owned by CBN's for-profit subsidiary, U.S. Media Corp.

UPI sought bankruptcy protection in 1985 and again last August.

The agency, founded as United Press by E.W. Scripps, became United Press International in 1958 when it merged with William Randolph Hearst's International News Service.

The Scripps family sold it in 1982 to Tennessee businessmen Douglas Ruhe and William Geissler, who in turn sold it in 1986 to Mexican businessman Mario Vasquez-Rana and Houston developer Joe Russo. In 1988, Vasquez-Rana, who controlled 90 percent of the company, sold it to Infotechnology Inc.

Infotechnology sought bankruptcy protection in March 1991 and UPI followed suit five months later.

The news service has won nine Pulitzer prizes for reporting and photography.

It has about 500 employees, down from 1,850 in 1984.

Since last November, UPI employees agreed to a series of reductions in their pay.