Freedom Communications Inc. in Irvine, parent of the Orange County Register, reached agreement with the company's lenders on the restructuring of its debt and will complete the process through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization filed in a Delaware court Tuesday, company officials announced.

Under the reorganization, Freedom's debt will be cut to $325 million from more than $770 million. Existing shareholders, including members of the founding Hoiles family, and two private equity firms, the Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners, will retain a 2 percent equity interest in the company. They also will be granted warrants that will allow them to purchase up to 10 percent of the shares in the company.

However, the family, which has owned the flagship Register since 1935, and has since seen the company grow to 33 dailies, 70 weeklies and other publications, and eight television stations, will give up control to the banks. The lenders will select a new board and appoint a new CEO.


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