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Reader's Digest to File for Chapter Eleven

Three months ago, Moody's listed the old familiar Reader's Digest, which is the top U.S. consumer magazine (with a planetary subscriber base of some 50 million people) on its "bottom rung" of companies at risk of defaulting on loans.

Today, the company announced it is filing for bankruptcy protection.

The Reader's Digest Association Inc., said it has reached agreements with its major lenders to restructure its debt; and in the context, it did not make an interest payment of $27 million that was due today. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that, "Under the debt-restructuring deal, the company's senior secured lenders will exchange what it said was 'a substantial portion' of the company's $1.6 billion in debt for stock."

If the company, which is privately held, emerges from bankruptcy along the lines envisioned in this deal, it will have reduced its debt load to about $550 million, or roughly a third of the present level.

The Reader's Digest was founded in 1922 in Pleasantville, New York. It has always been one of the most compact magazines in the U.S., at roughly half the size of most. Its motto is "America in your pocket."

Starting in the late 30s and 40s, the magazine published international editions, starting with the U.K. According to its Wikipedia page, the following is the list of markets into which Reader's Digest has published (and the year it started there):

  • 1938 - United Kingdom
  • 1940 - Latin America (in Spanish)
  • 1942 - Brazil
  • 1943 - Sweden
  • 1945 - Finland
  • 1946 - Australia, Denmark
  • 1947 - Belgium (French), France, Norway
  • 1948 - Canada (in English and French), Germany, Italy,
    South Africa, Switzerland (in French and German)
  • 1950 - Argentina, New Zealand
  • 1952 - Austria, Spain
  • 1954 - India (in English)
  • 1957 - Netherlands
  • 1965 - Hong Kong (in English), Southeast Asia (in Chinese)
  • 1968 - Belgium (Dutch)
  • 1971 - Hispanics in the United States (in Spanish), Portugal
  • 1978 - South Korea
  • 1991 - Hungary, Russia
  • 1993 - Czech Republic
  • 1995 - Poland
  • 1996 - Thailand
  • 1997 - Slovakia
  • 2005 - Romania, Slovenia, Croatia
  • 2007 - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Ukraine
Earlier Bnet coverage: Venerable Reader's Digest Listed "At Risk" by Moody's