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Obie gets loan, line of credit.

Byline: Edward Russo The Register-Guard

Obie Media Corp. has secured $26 million in financing, earmarking most of it to pay off debt.

The Eugene-based public transit advertising and billboard firm on Thursday said it struck the deal for a $20 million loan and a $6 million credit line from an East Coast finance company.

Obie had about $23 million in debt when it made the financing arrangement with CapitalSource Finance of Chevy Chase, Md. The loans, secured by Obie's assets, replace the firm's previous loan and credit line with U S Bank.

Obie, with 234 employees in the U.S. and Canada, sells advertising for transit districts, and has 1,200 billboards in six states. In exchange for the right to sell ads for buses, railcars and benches, the firm pays transit districts a minimum guaranteed amount, a percentage of ad sales, or a combination of both.

Obie executives said they will use the new funding to pay off what it owes U S Bank and the Chicago Transit Authority, as well as finance business expansion.

"We believe this new funding package is a breakthrough event for the company," CEO Brian Obie said in a statement. "It allows us to close the book on old business and provides us with the resources to grow our business segments.'

Obie, which employs 71 people at its West 11th Avenue headquarters, owed U S Bank about $17 million, excluding finance charges.

It owes about $5 million to the Chicago Transit Authority as part of a dispute settlement. The Chicago agency, unhappy with Obie's performance during the recession, fired Obie in 2001 in the first year of a three-year contract that required Obie to pay the CTA a minimum of $21.8 million.

Obie agreed to pay the CTA $17 million. Obie has paid down a large chunk of the obligation, leaving a balance of about $5 million to be paid off by 2007. Smaller debts to other lenders brought the firm's total debt to about $23 million.

Obie's revenues are improving, the company added. Current booked sales are 25 percent ahead of last year, increasing the volume of work at the company's Eugene production shop, the company said.

Obie will announce financial results for the quarter ending Nov. 30 sometime between Feb. 15 and Feb. 28.
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Title Annotation:Business; The Eugene advertising company will use it to retire debt and fund growth
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 16, 2004
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