1992 AP Follow on MBC Bid for UPI



Here's a follow-up AP story from June 18, 1992, on new offer for UPI after Pat Robertson bailout:


MiddleEastern Network Makes $3.5 Million Bid for UPI

NEW YORK (AP) - An Arabic-language television network offered $3.5 million Thursday for United Press International.

But the cash-starved news agency is barred from talking to the network while real estate investor and attorney Leon Charney considers making a bid.

Charney emerged as a potential buyer last week after religious broadcaster Pat Robertson backed out of a $6 million deal to buy the wire service.

In a letter to UPI attorneys, Middle East Broadcasting Centre Ltd. said it was interested in keeping UPI going as a full-fledged wire service.

The London-based network is owned by several Saudi businessmen. It has been broadcasting news and entertainment programs in the Middle East and southern Europe since September.

"It had in its business plan the goal of establishing its own worldwide news gathering and reporting abilities," said adviser Michael Costello, a Washington attorney. "This acquisition would greatly advance that objective."

MBC said it was prepared to close the deal in 10 days.

Steve Geimann, UPI vice president and editor, said the company was still talking with Charney, who put up $180,000 to keep UPI in business through Monday while he looks at its books.

UPI agreed not to talk to any other suitors during that time, and Charney said he would take legal action if the wire service violated the agreement.

Dennis O'Dea, lead attorney for UPI's creditors, said he thought UPI was worth more than $3.5 million, but added, "It's the best bid we've seen so far."

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Francis Conrad scheduled a hearing Tuesday to consider Charney's possible bid as well as Robertson's bid to buy some of UPI's assets.

After deciding against buying UPI outright, Robertson offered to pay $500,000 for the wire service's name, copyrights, current and historical archives and two photo contracts it holds.

But UPI officials rejected the bid, saying the agency would close if it couldn't get more money. The company and its creditors are owed $60 million.

Charney said Thursday he's still "very interested" in UPI and has been "rather encouraged" by his review of the company so far.

UPI has lost money for 30 years and is under bankruptcy protection for the second time in a decade. Founded as United Press by E.W. Scripps in 1907, the news service was once the nation's second largest, behind The Associated Press.

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