Ray Wechsler, the president and chief operating officer of United Press International, resigned yesterday to take over new duties with the creditors' committee that is trying to sell the financially troubled news organization.
Wechsler's resignation came amid rumors of disgreements between him and UPI Chairman Luis Nogales over strategies for selling the company.
UPI itself, citing "company sources," reported the alleged rift yesterday. But Bill Adler, a spokesman for the company, discounted that portion of his wire service's report. Wechsler's move simply is a business decision made to facilitate disposition of the company, Adler said.
"Events are really accelerating toward a sale," said Adler, who added that the company, now operating under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy laws, is expected to receive final buyer proposals today.
Wechsler, who had served as UPI president and chief operating officer since March 27, will continue receiving his annual $142,500 salary from the company even though he is leaving to join the creditors' committee, Adler said.
The spokesman acknowledged that the arrangement is unusual, inasamuch as creditors in bankruptcy and corporate reorganization proceedings generally are construed to be on the opposite side of the fence from debtors.
But the creditors' committee wanted Wechsler as an adviser, said Jules Teitelbaum, a New York lawyer representing the committee. Teitelbaum said that Wechsler's new appointment must be approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Columbia, which is overseeing the case.
Wechsler actually has been trying to help UPI work out its problems for the last 13 months.
"When it became appropriate and necessary for me to step in as president, I was happy to do so," he said in a formal statement issued yesterday. "We've made real progress during the past year. I expect that progress to continue," Wechsler said.
For his part, Nogales gave no indication yesterday that the Wechsler transfer was prompted by an internal dispute.
"While at UPI, Mr. Wechsler has done an outstanding job, which we have appreciated," Nogales said. "The recapitalization effort at UPI is continuing well."