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Jewish Times owner says it has found new investor group

Alter Communications Inc., publisher of the Baltimore Jewish Times, is seeking a second 30-day extension from the court in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, saying that a group of new investors has entered the picture.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge James F. Schneider had given Alter and its former long-time printer, H.G. Roebuck & Son Inc., until Nov. 25 to reach a compromise after he denied both of their competing bankruptcy plans on Sept. 28. At issue is the post-Chapter 11 restructuring plan for Alter, which initially filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2010.

Alter said in a filing Wednesday that it needed the extra time to continue negotiations with Roebuck. The company said since the last deadline a group of investors from the community had approached Alter and agreed to help ensure it continues publishing.

“On November 28, 2011, [Alter] and the investor group reached an agreement in principle which, if approved by this Court, would provide for an infusion of cash into the company, an effective means of implementing a reorganization and a continuation of this treasured Baltimore institution,” the motion reads.

Details on the makeup of the investor group were not included in the filing. Alter attorney Maria Ellena Chavez-Ruark, with Tydings & Rosenberg LLP in Baltimore, said the details would follow.

Ruark said Friday that negotiations with Roebuck were continuing and that she was optimistic an agreement could be reached.

“We’re hopeful that this will allow us to take it to the next step,” she said.

H.G. Roebuck sued Alter and Jewish Times publisher Andrew A. Buerger for breach of contract in 2009 and won a $362,000 judgment. This led to Alter filing for bankruptcy protection and Roebuck’s owner challenged the initial plan, which would have given them 85 percent of Alter’s profits over a five-year period. Roebuck’s competing plan would have split Alter’s stock evenly with the Buerger family.

In addition to the Jewish Times, Alter publishes Style magazine, Chesapeake Life magazine and a portfolio of custom publications. The Jewish Times, Maryland’s largest Jewish weekly publication, publishes on Fridays, averages more than 120 pages and has a paid circulation of nearly 50,000, according to its website.

The paper was founded in 1919 by David Alter, and current publisher Andrew Buerger took over the company when his father, Charles A. Buerger, died in 1996. Andrew Buerger changed the company name from Jewish Times Inc. to Alter Communications.

Buerger did not return calls for comment. Roebucks’ attorney, William L. Hallam of Rosenberg | Martin | Greenberg LLP also did not return calls for comment last week.