FINANCE

Vote on future of True Value extended

BY HBSDealer Staff

As members of True Value consider an offer to sell 70% equity of the company to Acon Investments, Chicago-based True Value Company has added a week to the voting deadline.

On Friday, the company announced to members that the special meeting of the board on April 20 will share the voting results with the members. The original vote deadline was April 12, just before midnight. It’s now April 19, just before midnight.

So far, votes have been largely in favor of the proposal announced March 15 that would dramatically change the structure of the True Value, sell a majority stake to a private equity company and unlock dealers investment. The company said 72% of the proxies have been counted, and 85% have voted for the proposal.

In an announcement to dealers on Friday, the co-op said: “based on the massive vote support, our plan remains to close the transaction on or around April 20 following the Special Meeting.”

The additional week was described in a statement as related to a lawsuit brought by a member who sought more information.

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FINANCE

Toy tycoon submits bid to save Toys ‘R’ Us

BY Marianne Wilson

It’s still a longshot, but some Toys “R” Us stores may live to see another day.

Isaac Larian, the billionaire founder and CEO of MGA Entertainment, whose products include Bratz dolls, Little Tikes and LOL Surprise, put in a formal bid of $675 million to buy 274 U.S. Toys “R” Us’ stores. He also put another $215 million to buy Toys “R” Us’ 82 stores in Canada. The bid comes as the chain is in the process of liquidating its U.S. operations.

The funds to purchase the stores will come from Larian’s own coffers, additional investors and bank financing, the privately held MGA stated. It added that the bid amounts were determined after careful due diligence by Larian, speaking with multiple investors and third-party experts.

Larian’s bid faces several challenges, not the least of which is whether toy brands would want to work with a retail chain that is owned by the CEO of another toy brand. According to the Wall Street Journal, Larian has said he would not be involved in the day-to-day operations of Toys “R” Us if his bid succeeds.

Larian previously had started a campaign on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to raise $1 billion to save the bankrupt chain. The longshot effort brought in pledges for about $200 million.

“Every day that goes by, the value of Toys “R” Us declines and more people lose their jobs,” Larian said. “I did my part and now it’s up to the other side to accept this offer. If they do, the real work will begin.”

Larian shared his vision for the embattled toy retailer, saying the stores would be like a “mini-Disneyland.”

“We will make Toys “R” Us an experience in and of itself; a fun and engaging place where families can spend an entire day,” he said.

In other Toys “R” Us news, the company received a commitment from its Taj noteholder group for $80 million in incremental debtor-in-possession financing to strengthen its liquidity and support the working capital needs of its stores in Asia and Central Europe.

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Toys ‘R’ Us gets financing to support stores in Asia and Europe

BY Marianne Wilson

Toys “R” Us is not disappearing from the retail landscape in the immediate future — at least not outside of the U.S.

The bankrupt retailer, which is in the process of liquidating its U.S. operations, has received a commitment from its Taj noteholder group for $80 million in incremental debtor-in-possession financing. The funds will strengthen the retailer’s liquidity and support the working capital needs of its operations in Asia and Central Europe.

Toys “R” Us noted that its Asian and Central European operations already have sufficient liquidity to fund their current operations. The new funding gives the operations greater flexibility to grow their footprint and build inventory for the 2018 holiday season.

“This additional financing further positions our Asian and Central European operations for continued success,” said Dave Brandon, CEO, Toys “R” Us. “We appreciate the ongoing financial support and look forward to continued positive relationships with our vendors.”

The company said it has received interim approval of the incremental DIP financing from bankruptcy court.

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