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Fries Appoints Adviser

Fries Entertainment has hired an adviser to find financial partners or possibly even a buyer.

The company hired investment banker Furman Selz to explore a variety of alternatives that include joint ventures or strategic alliances for production and distribution, “possible sale of all or a portion” of Fries assets or license of those assets.

Until that interested party is found, Fries will be meeting with its principal shareholders and the holders of about $25 million in bonds to consider debt restructuring. “No, that doesn’t mean we’re headed for a Chapter 11,” said chairman Charles W. Fries.

With the government officially acknowledging a nationwide recession and with new financing expected to get even tougher, Fries said he considered it timely to take some restructuring steps “to enhance shareholder and bondholder value.”

Fries currently has about $25 million in outstanding bonds and $25 million in bank loans. The company has had some financial difficulty, with losses deepening 105% to $2.82 million (or 58&cents; a share) from $1.37 million (29&cents;) for its first quarter and revenue falling 46% to $5.05 million.

The company previously blamed a lack of television pix-of-the-week for the poor results. But Fries expects that to turn around, with four or five telepix slated for the year currently in various stages of production.

“Fries appears to be preparing for tougher times ahead,” said Jeffrey Logsdon, an analyst with Seidler, Amdec Securities. “It looks like management is on a fishing expedition to find out if someone wants the library.”

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