The acquisition last week of magazine publisher Metropolitan Media Group already is proving painful to current and former employees.

Petters Group Worldwide, a Minnetonka-based company that owns Polaroid and has a large stake in Sun Country Airlines, has declined to pay back wages and accrued vacation money to more than 50 Metropolitan Media workers who were either laid off last week or offered new positions at a yet-to-be-named company.

A company spokeswoman said those debts to employees were not part of the acquisition, which closed for an undisclosed price and included 15 lifestyle publications produced by Metropolitan Media, as well as MinnesotaBusiness and the in-flight magazine at Sun Country Airlines.

"Under the business plan that we are working on right now, [paying back pay and vacation] was just not something that we were able to do with this acquisition," said Andrea Miller, a spokeswoman for Petters Group.

Several former employees of Metropolitan Media said they learned they were not receiving back pay and accrued vacation money last Thursday -- the same day they received their pink slips. Employees were given a list of "frequently asked questions" that included, "What about my pay?" The answer, "MMG does not have the resources to make any further payments."

Alyssa Geronsin, 26, former style editor at Metropolitan Media's lifestyle publications, estimates that she is owed $2,800, including pay since July 1 and accrued vacation. She said company officials repeated the line in the questionnaire and declined to elaborate on why she would not be paid. Petters Group's portfolio of companies generated $2.2 billion in sales last year.

"We obviously would have accepted it if they had said, 'We're not doing well, here's your last paycheck and your vacation and see you,'" Geronsin said. "But finding out that we're not getting paid from a company as large as [Petters] is angering."

Geronsin and other employees said they are working with attorneys to determine their rights.

About 35 of the company's 50 to 60 employees have been offered jobs in the new company, which has not yet been named. Those who accepted these positions also will not receive back pay and accrued vacation.

The new company will be housed at Petters Group headquarters in Minnetonka. Some of the company's lifestyle publications will be suspended or eliminated, although the company has not determined which ones.

Chris Serres • 612-673-4308