Dispatch will be able to make payroll this week, court decides


U.S. Bankruptcy Court has allowed the Binkley Company to loan up to $1 million to the Alaska Dispatch News — in batches — to keep the newspaper afloat while owner Alice Rogoff navigates Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and as Binkley Co. tries to save the newspaper.

That means payroll can be made this Thursday for the 212 employees, and the Premera Blue Cross insurance premiums can be brought current (Premera has not been paying the bills submitted by doctors and patients under the Dispatch’s contract because Rogoff’s company is two months in arrears). Worker’s Compensation insurance can also be made current with the first installment of the loan — $300,000 — from Binkley Co.

If the Binkley Co. isn’t successful with the purchase, Judge Gary Spraker raised the “distinct possibility” of the entire matter devolving into a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In fact, “Chapter 7” was mentioned three times during the Monday hearing at the old federal courthouse in Anchorage.

Chapter 11 is for a company that has some potential to continue. Chapter 7 is when the assets are sold off at auction to pay creditors whatever can be paid.

Writer Craig Medred was in court yesterday and picks up the story from here:

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The broad smiles flashing on the faces of the family Binkley outside a courtroom in Anchorage on Monday were reminiscent of those brightening the staff of an internet startup called AlaskaDispatch.com only a little over three years earlier.

One can only hope for all involved that the happiness lasts longer this time.

The Dispatch.com smiles came following Alice Rogoff’s $34 million purchase of the Anchorage Daily News, later to become the Alaska Dispatch News to save a valuable online acronym – ADN.com

The Binkley smiles arose after a federal bankruptcy judge gave them the OK to loan Rogoff’s now bankrupt Dispatch News up to $1 million to try to keep it afloat until they or someone else can buy it.

A court hearing on a possible sale is set for Sept. 11 – 9/11 – in the old federal courthouse in downtown Anchorage. None of the more than two dozen people in attendance for the Monday hearing seemed to notice the somewhat ominous date.

It only sounded more foreboding when Bankruptcy Court Judge Gary Spraker mentioned the “distinct possibility of going into a Chapter 7.”

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy action, a company is shutdown and a trustee is appointed to sell its assets. The Binkley Company – a limited liability company formed in mid-August by James, Ryan and Wade Binkley along with Kai Binkley Sims – is trying to help the Dispatch avoid that fate.

The Binkleys are the children of John Binkley, a former candidate for Alaska governor and a Fairbanks businessman who once ran a small tourism empire in the Interior city. The kids have now taken over most of the business, and Binkley is again talking about running for governor.

Still, he has found time to attend all the bankruptcy hearings in Anchorage. He described his role in the deal as “proud father.”