1992 AP Story on Pat Robertson's Bailout



Here's a follow-up AP story from June 12, 1992, on new offer for UPI after Pat Robertson bailout:


UPI Says It Has Prospective Buyer, Averting Shutdown

NEW YORK (AP) - An investor has made a last-minute offer to keep United Press International afloat for 10 days while he decides whether to bid for the news service.

UPI executives said Thursday's offer from Leon Charney, a lawyer specializing in real estate, banking and finance, would keep the 85-year-old company from going out of business at midnight tonight.

The agreement, which developed just a day after a proposed deal with religious broadcaster Pat Robertson fell through, commits Charney to providing $180,000 in non-refundable operating money to keep UPI going until June 22.

Charney and UPI President and Chief Executive Officer Pieter VanBennekom met in Charney's Manhattan office this morning. Charney said they would discuss the deal and he hoped to have an announcement by early afternoon.

"We're interested in communications and if we could transform UPI into a 21st-century communications empire that would be great," Charney said Thursday. "We want to take the basis of what they were and transform them into a high-tech communications company."

Steve Geimann, UPI's executive vice president and editor, said Charney "expects to make a bid for all or substantially all of UPI's assets" and will make a decision by the end of the month.

Any agreement would be subject to the approval of federal bankruptcy court and would need the endorsement of creditors owed some $60 million.

Charney, 45, heads Charney Communications Network, which produces the "Leon Charney Report," broadcast Sundays on a New York television station.

He also served as an unofficial special adviser to President Carter, especially during the Camp David peace talks.

"I've had other situations in my life that I've turned around," Charney said. "If you're creative and have ideas, you can turn things around."

Before the announcement Thursday afternoon, UPI employees had continued their usual reporting and editing assignments, but had little hope the news service would survive.

Paychecks were distributed; many employees wondered if they would be the last ones.

"We are not making a whole lot of plans for coverage next week at the moment," said Doug Levy, a UPI reporter and officer of the Wire Service Guild. "We are trying to keep going as best we can, but we are also realizing that the stories we are writing could be among our last."

Dennis O'Dea, lead attorney for UPI's creditors, said he was concerned that UPI not drain its assets further while waiting for another buyer to make up his mind.

Robertson had made a $6 million offer for the company in federal bankruptcy court last month, but exercised his option Wednesday to withdraw the offer after going over the books.

"It costs a lot of money to keep a wire service running," O'Dea said. "It doesn't take a month to get to know this company."

O'Dea said he had little information about Charney, but added, "The company does seem to believe he has access to capital and the ability to close, and that's what's important."

UPI has lost money for 30 years and is operating under bankruptcy court protection for the second time in a decade.

The news service was founded as United Press by E.W. Scripps in 1907 and merged with William Randolph Hearst's International News Service in 1958. It has won nine Pulitzer prizes for reporting and photography.

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