DA Bureau Report on Pieter VanBennekom's Visit in 1990



Here's a Nov. 8, 1990, message reporting the results of a presentation by UPI executive Pieter VanBennekom to the Dallas bureau staff:


136m highlights of pieter vanbennekom discussion at dallas: in opening remarks, he repeated remaks in previous bureaus that the situation simply got out of hand and "unravelled in rapid succession." -- with the coming of new ceos, all transactions with infotechnology were stopped, resulted in the "severest belt tightening in upi history." -- "now we can't think of long-term plans." only buy time to effect sale of company, even that is going to be difficult but still nobody wants to "put the final nail" on upi. thus, no other alternative than to go for the pay cuts. -- also urged that as "you make up your mind on the ballot issue, beware of the false economic arguments." -- also noted how he personally carrying "heavy load on my shoulders" because of his association with previous owners. but assured that he can say with confidence that "nobody has raped upi." "it is quite the other way around. some have been well-intentioned." he said in case of infotechnology, they had a grand dream, which according to pvb is still valid even though upi lies in tatters. part of that dream which is still valid and which pvb believes is that upi information must have secondary and tertiary uses. in other words beyond the media market. "similar strategies (secondary and tertiary markets) will eminently possible" under a new buyer of upi. but also cautions it is too early to forecast success. at this point, pvb quoted herschfeld as say wall street journal that (sale of upi) has more than a 50-50 chance. here he implied that upi would be sold in its totality under these odds. but did not elaborate. but also noted that upi could also be sold in pieces if they are attractive to a buyer. "but that is not our priority." ----------------- q&a session: 1. can you give us some sense of what kind of potential buyers are we talking about? - will not speculate about the buyers, he said. he added that lesson was learned from the previous situation which resulted in too many leaks. 2. what in your opinion would be an ideal buyer? - my personal opinion is one that has the same grand dream, that is finding secondary and tertiary use for upi information. 3. if chapter 7 is the choice, would we still get the paychecks on nov. 16? - yes, there would be cash according to our plans on that date. we also have programs for other expenses. 4. if the company is sold, do you now have a better sense that our salaries would be restored by the new owner? can you give us a little more assurance than what you have been saying on this issue in the past few days? - that is a problem that has been kicked around. again woud not be pinned down on giving a better assurance. the immediate priority is to effect a sale quickly. also said making this a condition of sale would make the sale even more difficult. pvb also noted, however, than any buyer would have to know that continuing the company at 65 percent wage level would be impossible to maintain the level of professionalism that we are capable of. therefore, any buyer would have to addressthat after acquiring upi. (when pressed more on this issue, pvb said) - we simply cannot do that (make restoration of pay one of the conditions of sale). he said the only assurance you can have is that if there is a sale, that "your skills are worth a lot more" and that continuing at the 65 percent level "will not be viable for the new buyer." "it is my personal opinion that pay has to be addressed by the buyer." 5. we understand some are exempted from the pay cuts? who are they? -- here pvb basically outlined that all overseas employees getting salaries in dollars would be subject to the 35 percent cuts. some of the local employees in certain companies would have to be exempted because of local laws which would require heavier compensation to those employees. 6. there is some feeling that for any potential buyer it would be cheaper to pick up upi form chapter 7 than negotiating its purchase at this juncture. -- "if we shut down and there is no service, there is nothing to buy. who would give anything for a service that has not been producing anything for a week or a month?" 7. any further cuts in salaries or staff? -- "we do not anticipate further cuts. we do not anticipate any further layoffs. 8. will the salary cuts affect those who are already drawing severance? -- he said those who are drawing severance would continue to receive full severance; there will be no 35 percent cuts. 9. how confident are you that with the 35 percent cut we will make it? -- "i am very confident about our plan." 10. will a yes vote on the pay cut make it retroactive to nov. 4? -- "no, this was what the union insisted. in other words, the pay cut can only be 'forward moving.'" 11. will or can upi be integrated with fnn and sold as one unit? "based on market value and financial conditions, fnn is certainly worth more on a cash basis than upi. but it could be (that is, upi and fnn sold as one unit). there has been some interest in that too." upi 11-08-90 05:48 pes