FINANCE

Creditors object to Blockbuster’s plan to sell itself

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Some landlords, vendors and other unsecured creditors of Blockbuster are objecting to Blockbuster’s plan to sell itself because they fear they won’t be paid what they are owed, according to the Associated Press.

A hearing to approve the stalking horse bid and auction was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but was postponed late Tuesday until March 10 while the judge considers the objections.

On Feb. 21, Blockbuster, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September, agreed to be bought out of bankruptcy by a group of its debt holders for $290 million. The offer, from Cobalt Video Holdco LLC, is a "stalking horse" bid. It would open an auction process for other investors who could pay more.

The Cobalt group includes funds managed by Monarch Alternative Capital LP, Owl Creek Asset Management LP, Stonehill Capital Management LLC and Varde Partners. They all hold secured Blockbuster debt.

Investor Carl Icahn and his Icahn Partners LP could make a rival bid for the company, according to the report. Icahn was part of the group of investors, which also included all of the Cobalt bidders, that hold 80% of Blockbuster’s secured debt and supported the chain when it filed for bankruptcy protection in September.

On Monday, a committee of unsecured creditors filed an objection with the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District in New York stating that the original bankruptcy protection reorganization plan included $125 million in so-called debtor-in-possession financing that would help Blockbuster pay back its creditors. But if the stalking horse bid goes through they say creditors will be left in the lurch.

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FINANCE

Kroger Q4 profit up 9%

BY CSA STAFF

Cincinnati — Kroger Co. said Thursday that its fourth-quarter net income jumped 9.2% while sales rose 7.4%. It also announced that its board authorized a $1 billion stock repurchase plan.

Net income was $278.8 million, compared with $255.4 million in the year-ago period. Quarterly revenue rose to $19.9 billion, with same-store sales up 3.8%.

Kroger offered a cautious outlook for the current year, saying rising fuel costs are likely to take a bite out of household budgets.

Kroger said total sales rose 7.1% for the year. Excluding fuel, its sales rose 3.4%. Same-store sales rose 2.8% for the year, excluding fuel.

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FINANCE

Foot Locker Q4 income more than doubles

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Foot Locker’s fourth-quarter net income more than doubled to $57 million on fewer charges and improved revenue.

The company reported a 5% increase in sales for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2010, to $1.39 billion, up from $1.33 billion in the year-ago period. Same-store sales rose 7.3%.

Foot Locker reported net income of $169 million for the full year. That compares with net income of $48 million, in 2009.

The company opened 43 stores and closed 117 in fiscal 2010. Its total store count fell to 3,426 as of Jan. 29, compared with 3,500 a year earlier.

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