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Old 02-10-2004, 03:33 AM   #1
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Tower Records Parent Files for Bankruptcy

Tower Records Parent Files for Bankruptcy

Mon Feb 9, 4:20 PM ET

By JIM WASSERMAN, Associated Press Writer

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The parent company of Tower Records, the pioneering record merchant that invented the music megastore and became one of the nation's largest music and video retailers, has filed for bankruptcy, the company announced Monday.

MTS Inc., the privately held parent of the West Sacramento-based chain, said it has filed a prepackaged plan of reorganization and voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 as the concluding step in a debt restructuring that began in May 2003.

The company filed in U.S Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., the day after the record industry celebrated itself with the Grammy Awards.

The filing is expected to help clear the way for selling the 93-store chain that suffered from rapid changes in the music business, especially the exploding popularity of downloading music for free from the Internet. Discounters such as Best Buy, Circuit City and Wal-Mart Stores also undercut Tower's prices and hurt the chain's earnings.

Those trends and a major slump in the music industry followed fast on the heels of the company's 1998 decision to expand using $110 million of borrowed money. The expansion drove Tower to a peak of more than $1 billion in annual revenue with nearly 200 stores in 21 states and numerous franchises internationally. But it has been rapidly downsizing since 2001.

A filing last April with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (news - web sites) revealed the retailer had lost money for 13 straight quarters. The firm's earnings peaked at nearly $1.1 billion in the fiscal year that ended July 31, 2000, and then began falling, leading to mounting losses and store closings in 2001 and more in 2002.

Analysts said other music retailers are suffering as well.

"Sam Goody has been closing stores," said music attorney Jerry Reisman of Garden City, N.Y. "They suffer from some of the same pains that Tower Records suffers from. Virgin may not be in that much trouble, but I will tell you, Virgin, too, is having difficulty competing just on the sale of music."

Reisman cited record piracy as a major factor in music retailing's demise, saying, "The person who is buying CDs, the predominant person is teenagers who shopped in the past at stores such as Tower, and they are no longer shopping at Tower. They are taking the music online without having to pay for it."

Court approval of the bankruptcy plan will cut the existing $110 million debt by $80 million, Tower CEO E. Allen Rodriguez said in a news release, and will eliminate "the financial risks that have faced Tower for the past three years. Our issues are financial, not operational ... and we expect the prepackaged reorganization to be concluded quickly."

The company said it expects to receive plan confirmation and successfully complete the reorganization within 60 days.

The filing comes nearly a year after MTS decided to sell Tower because it could not make a $5.2 million payment on its debt.

Los Angeles investment banker Lloyd Greif, hired to sell the company, said his firm is still talking with interested buyers, but selling the company has proved more difficult than he expected.

The bankruptcy filing proposes that creditors assume 85 percent of Tower Records shares in exchange for their debt holdings. Presently, Russ Solomon, who launched the chain with a single store in Sacramento in 1960, holds 62 percent of the privately held company, with his two sons, Michael and David, who hold another 36 percent. The chain's creditors include 38 bondholders such as AIG Investment Group, Bear Stearns Securities Corp., JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc.

Tower will continue to operate as normal during the Chapter 11 process, paying its employees, honoring customers' gift certificates and paying its vendors, the company said in a statement. The reorganization plan also calls for repaying millions of dollars owed to vendors that have supplied the chain with compact discs, videos and books. According to documents filed Monday, those obligations include $15.6 million to Universal Music and Video, $13.6 million to WEA Distribution (Warner, Elektra and Atlantic Records), $7.1 million to Sony Music Entertainment and $7.1 million to BMG Distribution.

Founder Solomon and Tower Records became a cultural icon nationally in the music business, known for in-store concerts and a deep selection of up to 180,000 titles in its largest stores.

___


The case number for the filing is 04-10393-PJW.
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Old 02-10-2004, 08:46 AM   #2
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Re: Tower Records Parent Files for Bankruptcy

Quote:
Originally posted by theSoulfulMofo

By JIM WASSERMAN, Associated Press Writer

The filing is expected to help clear the way for selling the 93-store chain that suffered from rapid changes in the music business, especially the exploding popularity of downloading music for free from the Internet.....

Horseshit. I can buy Jesus Christ Superstar at Tower for $35 or I can buy it from Amazon for $29 and free shipping.

Not everybody steals music online. Some of us just like to pay less.
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Old 02-10-2004, 10:14 AM   #3
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yeah, exactly.

good ridence as far as I'm concerned. I ain't payin $22 for a new cd.
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Old 02-10-2004, 10:23 AM   #4
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Right. I knew they were going to blame the internet before I even read the story. I was going to say the same thing, it's their prices! You can get the CD or DVD for much less at Best Buy and Circuit City. THAT'S who ran these specialty stores out of business, not the internet!
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Old 02-10-2004, 03:42 PM   #5
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sadly, i find more indie music from tower records than best buy.
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Old 02-10-2004, 04:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by theSoulfulMofo
sadly, i find more indie music from tower records than best buy.
True, but you can't run a business on that scale based on small appeal indy and hard to find stuff. I go there for that stuff too, but get anything at Best Buy that they have, because it's cheaper and I can't afford to throw money away. Consider too that the 'average' fan buys mostly mainstream stuff, and that's how they'd make most of their money, so that's the business they lose.

Best Buy can afford to sell CDs and DVDs for less because they have all those major appliances and computers and big screen TVs to make profit off of, where the record store has to hike up the prices just to survive. Now that there are cheaper places to undercut them, they can't survive. It's been the same with small businesses, mom and pop places and stuff like that all over the place. It's like the Megalowmart episode of King of the Hill. The big chains buy more and sell for less in everything, and no one else can compete because few consumers will pay more when they don't have to.
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