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Lee Enterprise Says Year Ahead of Schedule in Reducing Debt


Lee Enterprises, Incorporated (NYSE: LEE) repaid more than $60 million of debt in its fiscal year ended September 30, 2012, and has since repaid another $15.3 million, reducing the balance to $930.6 million, below the level originally anticipated to be reached a year from now.

In remarks prepared for a presentation today at the Deutsche Bank 2012 Leveraged Finance Conference in Scottsdale, AZ, Mary Junck, Lee chairman and chief executive officer, and Carl Schmidt, vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer, said Lee expects to continue significantly reducing its leverage over the next few years. They said that in the 12 months ended June 2012, Lee posted unlevered free cash flow^(1) of $170 million, and substantially all of that free cash flow will continue to be dedicated to servicing debt. Lower cash levels and selective asset sales have contributed to the acceleration in debt repayment.

In January 2012, Lee refinanced its former term loan and revolving debt into a structure of 1st and 2nd lien secured debt, along with a small undrawn revolver. Lee's former Pulitzer Notes debt also was refinanced.  Lee used a voluntary, prepackaged Chapter 11 process to bind a small minority of non-consenting lenders to the terms. The agreements extend the maturity of Lee's borrowings to December 2015 and April 2017.

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