A hearing in bankruptcy court Tuesday in Tampa could decide who winds up controlling the Reader and five other Creative Loafing Inc. papers—the present management or CLI’s primary creditor, Atalaya Capital Management of New York. There’s not much doubt that Atalaya—owed about $30 million by CLI—has the deeper pockets. But CLI’s CEO, Ben Eason, argues that the judge should favor not merely the biggest but the “best” bid, and defer to the incumbents’ experience and expertise.
But Atalaya is prepared to argue that Eason doesn’t have the corner on those virtues. Managing partner Michael Bogdan has been calling the publishers of the six papers to assure them that Atalaya doesn’t mean to take over the papers in order to run them into the ground. And on some of those calls—including the one to Reader associate publisher Steve Timble (Eason is currently acting as the Reader‘s publisher)—he’s been joined on the phone by James O’Shea, who will become a CLI board member if Atalaya wins the auction.