Marc Bell Wins Control of Ailing Penthouse

Rhett Pardon
NEW YORK — A bankruptcy judge cleared a reorganization plan Thursday for General Media Inc., the publisher of Penthouse magazine.

With its amended plan, Mexican investor Enrique Molina would lose control of Penthouse assets and give it to bondholders led by Boca Ratan, Fla., investor Marc H. Bell, who withdrew another proposal in April which would have given him ownership of the company.

Molina failed to come up with cash to buy the company’s debt from PET Capital Partners.

Bell has vowed to soften the publication, videos and licensing deals from its original hardcore niche.

New York-based General Media rushed to file the petition in order to avoid having to sell off its assets, a provision contained in an earlier agreement with bondholders.

The reorganization plan came less than a week after the sex-shop chain Beate Uhse pulled out of its joint deal with Molina to fight Bell.

Beate Uhse passed on a deal to invest $42.5 million in the company, which would have fully repaid up to $12 million to unsecured creditors and about $40 million to bondholders.

With the new plan, General Media is slated to give all of its common stock to bondholders and $2 million in cash to unsecured creditors.

It also allows Penthouse founder Robert Guccione to stay on as publisher of the magazine at half the salary, or $500,000 a year.