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Marc Bell wins control of Penthouse

In the battle over a dead magazine, it looks like Florida financier Marc Bell gets to take the bones home in a wheelbarrow.

Florida- The long-running Penthouse tug-of-war between Boca Raton financier Marc H. Bell and a Mexican millionaire has ended with Bell winning control of the ailing porn magazine.

Bell, who’s leading a group of investors in PET Capital Partners, said he’s now proceeding with his previously announced plans to soften up the hard-core monthly, shore up newsstand distribution and get it back into profitability.

”It’s going to be more of a Playboy than a Maxim,” he said, adding that Penthouse founder Robert Guccione will likely remain as a consultant.

A bankruptcy judge in New York approved Bell’s reorganization plan late Thursday after Luis Enrique Fernando Molina failed to come up with the cash to buy the magazine’s debt from PET Capital Partners.

Earlier this year, Molina had filed his own reorganization plan in a move to gain control of the magazine. Bell later withdrew his plan after striking a $60 million deal with Molina.

But Molina did not come up with the required payment by the Aug. 6 deadline, invalidating the deal.

”We were hoping that someone would come up with the money to buy this but no one did,” Bell said. “We got tired of waiting so we moved it out of bankruptcy. We’re now publishers of a magazine.”

Back Story: The Penthouse bankruptcy merry-go-round is coming to a full stop – with a new owner who’ll convert the magazine to a softer title for mass market newsstands.

A bankruptcy judge approved a reorganization plan yesterday that would strip Mexican investor Enrique Molina from his control of the assets and give it to bondholders led by Florida investor Marc Bell.

Bell says he’ll clean up the porn magazine and do soft-core video and licensing deals, as he initially planned to do in January. The settlement came just days after German adult-toy maker Beate Uhse AC pulled out of its joint pact with Molina to fight Bell.

Founder Bob Guccione, 73, will remain its editor at $500,000 a year. Molina’s Penthouse International, which owns 100 percent of the common stock of bankrupt magazine owner General Media, won’t receive anything.


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