Despite BB Brands dropping out as the stalking horse bidder for Borders as a going concern and a consortium of liquidators led by Hilco assuming that role, the show, or in this case the sale, must go on. At this morning’s bankruptcy hearing Judge Martin Glenn was unsympathetic to the “onslaught” of objections filed by landlords seeking delays, many of which were rendered moot absent a going-concern bid. “We’re not going to put all of this off,” he said. “This sales process is moving forward.”
Judge Glenn backed up that statement by approving the revised bidding procedures submitted last night that puts the Hilco/Gordon's Brothers group in the stalking horse position with a bid of $215.1 million with no breakup fee.
Although it looks as if Borders is headed toward liquidation, Borders attorney Andrew Glenn of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP held out the possibility that Najafi and BB Brands might still place a going-concern bid by Sunday’s 5 o’clock deadline. As he noted at the opening of the hearing, “This has been a case with many twists and turns. And the last 24 hours aren’t any exceptions.”
The Creditors Committee, which put the kibosh on Najafi’s bid with the objection it filed yesterday that it’s not a true going-concern bid, said through its attorney Bruce Buechler of Lowenstein Sandler, PC that it encourages BB Brands to come forward with a bid. Buechler noted that the Committee has been working for weeks with BB Brands for assurances of what a Borders chain would look like but BB Brands insisted on keeping in the liquidation clause in its offer.
If no going concern bidder comes forward by the deadline, Borders’s will hold a separate sale for intellectual property, leases, and other assets. Attorney Glenn credited BB Brands’s original bid with opening the door to various types of strategic partnerships. He cited Barnes & Noble as making an offer for certain assets with B&N possibly teaming up with a liquidator.
Given the circumstance, Judge Glenn indicated that he is open to a bifurcated hearing. But when pressed by landlords’ attorneys to choose a date, he showed his impatience. “I have a busy calendar and right now we have one bid and it’s a liquidation bid.”
In addition to approving the revised procedures, the judge approved several deadline changes. Landlords and other creditors like Seattle’s Best have until Monday July 18 at 4pm, rather than this afternoon, to submit their sale objections. By that time it will be known if there are any additional bidders. If there are no bidders, Borders has agreed to post this information on the BordersReorganization.com bankruptcy Web site on Monday.
If no other bidders come forward, it could be all over for Borders’s stores by the end of next week. The sale approval hearing is slated for Thursday July 21. A liquidation of the chain must close on or before Friday July 22. If there is an auction, it will be held on Tuesday afternoon. A going-concern sale must close by July 29.