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Times Publishing gets $3M more from financial backers

Margie Manning

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Daniel R. Blume from Orange County, California, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

FBN Partners LLC, a group of Tampa-St. Pete business leaders, has loaned Times Publishing Co., the parent company of the Tampa Bay Times, an additional $3 million.

The latest loan brings the total owed by Times Publishing to FBN to $15.285 million, according to an agreement filed Aug. 27 with Pinellas County Clerk of Court and Controller Ken Burke. That includes $12 million from the original loan made by FBN to the Times in July 2017.

The loan comes due on June 30, 2022, the agreement said.

The 2017 loan by wealthy and influential community leaders raised questions about how the Tampa Bay Times would report on their business activities. Paul Tash, chairman and CEO of Tampa Bay Times Co., said in a 2017 interview with Times owner Poynter Institute that the lenders would not influence news coverage.

A spokeswoman for the Times declined comment on the latest loan. She referred to a Tampa Bay Times story published Friday that said the loan is secured by a mortgage on the Times’ printing plant in St. Petersburg, and the company would contribute the new money to its pension plan.

Times Publishing failed to make a contribution to the pension plan by the April 15, 2019 due date, according to a lien filed by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp., a federal pension protection agency. The lien, filed June 24 in Pinellas County, said Times Publishing owned nearly $32.3 million in contributions to the pension plan. As of Dec. 31, 2017, the most recent date for which information was available, Times Publishing’s pension plan had 1,815 total participants and total assets of about $96 million.

The PBGC lien — the 7th such lien filed by the PCBG since June 2015 —  is on “all property and rights to property” of Times Publishing. The printing plant property, which includes several land parcels at 34th Street North and 13th Avenue North, is the only property Times Publishing owns, according to the Pinellas County Property Appraiser. Lincoln Property Co. owns the Tampa Bay Times headquarters building at 490 1st Ave. S.

FBN Partners includes Tash and his wife, Karyn; businessman and philanthropist Frank Morsani and his wife, Carol; Ted Couch, a commercial real estate developer and former bank president; Robert Rothman, chairman and CEO of Tampa investment firm Black Diamond Capital and part of the Washington Redskins ownership group; Tampa Bay Lighting owner Jeff Vinik; and Kiran Patel, a healthcare entrepreneur and philanthropist. Darryl Shaw, founder of Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners and an Ybor City developer, also is a FBN partner, according to WTSP.

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