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Boston-Based Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Files For Bankruptcy

BOSTON — Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the struggling Boston-based publisher, on Monday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a New York City court.

As the New York Times’ Dealbook reports, the “filing was expected” after the company on May 11 said it had reached an agreement with 70 percent of senior creditors to eliminate more than $3 billion in debt.

According to Reuters, this is Houghton’s “second major restructuring in 2-1/2 years.” Bloomberg adds that “[m]ore than 20 affiliates also entered bankruptcy” with Houghton.

The publisher has cited declining sales in seeking bankruptcy protection. Reuters reports:

The filing came as state and local governments cut their budgets, reducing demand for textbooks for students from kindergarten to 12th grade, Houghton Mifflin’s main business.

Houghton Mifflin has a 41 percent market share in the K-12 educational material and services sector, Fitch Ratings said.

Reuters adds that Houghton expects to emerge from Chapter 11 by the end of June.

Bloomberg provides historical context about the Boston-based publisher:

Houghton’s origins date to 1832, according to the company. Among its authors are Ralph Waldo Emerson and Jonathan Safran Foer, and the company’s titles include the “Curious George” and “Lord of the Rings” books.

Update at 11:45 a.m.: In an interview with WBUR’s Deborah Becker, Houghton spokesman Josef Blumenfeld said:

The economy has really put a dent in educational materials. Anybody who’s got kids in public schools knows that and this is a symptom of that.

But, he also tweeted:

Chap. 11 is the 1st step in a great direction for #HMH. We’ve got a great future ahead of us and a rich history behind us. #onwardandupward

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