Reorganized Penthouse Changes Name; Guccione Out

Rhett Pardon
NEW YORK — Penthouse Media Group Inc. on Thursday said it emerged from Chapter 11 protection under the control of PET Capital Partners LLC.

The company, formerly known as General Media Inc., said that under the terms of the reorganization plan, the senior note holders of General Media Inc. received new term loan notes and all of the new equity in Penthouse Media. PET Capital owned about 89 percent of the senior notes of General Media prior to its emergence from bankruptcy.

PET Capital is an affiliate of Marc Bell Capital Partners LLC, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based private investment firm. Penthouse Media will now be managed by Marc H. Bell and Daniel C. Staton, the principals of PET Capital.

PET Capital and affiliates received about 97 percent of Penthouse Media equity and a majority of the new term loan notes.

In an exclusive interview with XBiz, Bell said that the idea behind changing the name is to give the brand "a fresh, new start."

“We're going back to [the magazine's] roots — with better photography and stories,” Bell said. “The company will be operated as a global multimedia conglomerate encompassing Internet distribution through multiple websites, video production, broadcast, gambling, clubs and product licensing.”

A bankruptcy court confirmed a plan of reorganization sponsored by PET Capital in August. The plan was consummated earlier this week.

In related news, Bell told XBiz that Bob Guccione, the former publisher of Penthouse, will not return to the magazine he founded 39 years ago.

''We couldn't come to an agreement,'' said Bell, noting that he and Staton will serve as the publication's co-editors.

Guccione had been negotiating with Bell and PET Capital, to remain as a consultant or in another role as PET embarks on a remake of the title into a softer men's magazine.

Guccione, whose dire financial condition led him to forfeit his Manhattan mansion in August to pay debts, had withdrawn his support of PET Capital's plan to remake the magazine, backing instead a new plan by Mexican soft-drink mogul Luis Molina, who could not come up with the cash to buy the magazine's debt from PET by the August deadline.

PET Capital's original plan called for Guccione to stay on as publisher emeritus. Bell said Guccione will now have no role with the publication.