Cox ordered to pay $13.9 million for News-Journal pension

The former News-Journal Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. The former News-Journal Center in Daytona Beach, Florida.

A U.S. District Court judge in Florida has ordered Cox Enterprises Inc. to pay the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation $13.9 million to cover the pension liabilities of New-Journal Corp. 

Daytona Beach, Florida-based Cox was a long-time minority shareholder in News-Journal, a closely-held publisher of several Florida newspapers. 

Cox sued News-Journal in 2004, claiming the publisher’s directors were recklessly handling corporate assets. An effort by News-Journal to buy back Cox’s stake fizzled. 

A district judge then appointed a receiver to prepare News-Journal for sale. Upon the final liquidation of the company’s assets in 2010, News-Journal’s defined benefit pension was suspended and taken over by the PBGC. The district court ordered all proceeds from the sale of the company’s assets be distributed to Cox, as payment for its shares in the company, according to court papers.

PBGC appealed the district court’s decision. In January of 2012, the 11th U.S. Circuit Appeals Court in Atlanta vacated the district court decision and sent the case back to be reheard. 

This week, U.S. District Court Judge John Antoon II ruled that the PBGC should have been awarded assets in the original liquidation of News-Journal, and ordered Cox to pay $13.9 million to PBGC.

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