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Jewish Times bankruptcy case extended

The parties involved in the Alter Communications bankruptcy case have been granted a 30-day extension to come together on a plan for post-Chapter 11 restructuring.

Judge James F. Schneider had given Alter — publisher of the Baltimore Jewish Times — and its former long-time printer, H.G. Roebuck & Son Inc., until Oct. 21 to reach a compromise after he denied both of their competing bankruptcy plans on Sept. 28.

Alter’s request for an extension, agreed to by Roebuck, was granted Tuesday by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baltimore. The new deadline is Nov. 25.

“I think everyone believes this 30-day extension will prove fruitful and the court obviously was receptive to it,” Alter attorney Maria Ellena Chavez-Ruark said in a phone interview Wednesday morning. “We have a little more time to work out something with Roebuck.”

H.G. Roebuck sued Alter and Jewish Times publisher Andrew A. Buerger for breach of contract in 2009 and won a $362,000 judgment. Alter filed for bankruptcy, and H.G. Roebuck owners Charles M. Roebuck III and Richard M. Roebuck challenged Alter’s bankruptcy plan, which offered them 85 percent of Alter’s profits for the next five years and the opportunity to buy a 15 percent stake in the company. The Roebucks’ plan would have them split the company stock evenly with the Buerger family, who has owned the Jewish Times for 92 years.

The Roebucks’ attorney, William L. Hallam of Rosenberg | Martin | Greenberg LLP, confirmed the extension by emailing a copy of the court order. He did not respond to a request for comment on the extension by press time. A message left at H.G. Roebuck was not returned.

Ruark, of Tydings & Rosenberg LLP, said she had been “encouraged” by some of the negotiations between Buerger and the Roebucks over the previous 30 days, but a joint agreement remains “a work in progress.”

Buerger said he could not comment on the ongoing negotiations, except to say that The Jewish Times would continue operating just as it had throughout the bankruptcy case, which started in April 2010.

He added that response had been positive to the paper’s glossy, magazine-style redesign, which was unveiled at the end of August.

“People love the size, the color, the story choice,” Buerger said. “They’re really happy with the coated paper, both readers and advertisers.”