Cable networks have been approached by companies offering to buy their claims against Adelphia Communications Corp., with one programmer already offered 20 to 30 cents on the dollar.
New York-based Longacre Management has contacted at least one major cable-network group about buying its Adelphia receivables, according to one source. Longacre officials, who couldn't be reached for comment last week, said it would pay that programmer from 20 to 30 cents on the dollar of the money it is owed by Adelphia. It was likely that programmer was going to pass on the offer.
An official at one cable-network group, who asked not to be identified, said his company has received calls from several firms that have inquired about buying its claims against Adelphia. But that programmer isn't interested at this juncture.
"It's too early in the process, too early to tell how things are going to shake out," he said. "Adelphia is an ongoing business, so why not wait and see what happens?
"Bigger programmers with strong balance sheets can wait-and-see. Some small programmers may take the cash now."
Adelphia, which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, owes cable networks more than $64 million, which represents about 38 percent of the $170 million in claims made by the MSO's top 50 unsecured creditors. That list includes media giants such as AOL Time Warner Inc., The Walt Disney Co. and Viacom Inc. Home Box Office alone is due $34.4 million.
Companies such as Longacre offer creditors a quick, although partial, payoff of the money owed to them by businesses in Chapter 11.
It's all predicated on the idea that a creditor would rather have "a bird in the hand" — 20 to 30 cents on the dollar — rather than "waiting two years before they see a dollar from Adelphia," according to Los Angeles bankruptcy lawyer Ivan Kallick.
"Your have to decide whether you're better off taking 20 cents and writing off 80 cents, or better off to continue carrying the receivables on your books," Kallick said.
Companies like Longacre are essentially betting that when the bankruptcy proceedings are completed, they will collect "some increment above 20 cents" on the dollar from Adelphia, and therefore make a profit on the receivable it purchases, according to Kallick.
"It's not uncommon for companies to buy claims," he said.