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Found 9 results

  1. California Cities Face Bankruptcy Curbs By BOBBY WHITE MAY 28, 2009 As California seeks more funds from its cash-strapped cities and counties to close a $21 billion budget deficit, some state legislators are pushing a plan that could compound municipalities' pain by making it tougher for them to file for bankruptcy. The bill would require a California municipality seeking Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection to first obtain approval from a state commission. That contrasts with the state's current bankruptcy process, which allows municipalities to speedily declare bankruptcy without any state oversight so that they can quickly restructure their finances. The bill, introduced in January, has passed one committee vote and could reach a final vote by mid-July. The bill was sparked by the bankruptcy filing last year of Vallejo, Calif., just north of San Francisco. Vallejo's city leaders partly blamed work contracts with police and firefighters for pushing the city into bankruptcy, and won permission from a bankruptcy court in March to scrap its contract with the firefighters' union. That spurred the California Professional Firefighters to push for statewide legislation to curtail bankruptcy, said Carroll Willis, the group's communications director. "What we don't want is for cities to use bankruptcy as a negotiating tactic rather than a legit response to fiscal issues," he said, adding that he worries cities may work in concert to rid themselves of union contracts by declaring bankruptcy. If the bill passes, it could hurt cities and counties by lengthening the time before they can declare bankruptcy. That creates a legal limbo during which a municipality is more vulnerable to creditors. The proposed state bankruptcy commission would be staffed by four state legislators, which some critics worry could politicize the bankruptcy process. "This bill is impractical," said John Moorlach, a supervisor in Orange County, Calif., which filed for bankruptcy in 1994. "In many instances, haste is important. If you can't meet payroll but have to delay seeking protection, what do you do?" California towns and counties face a catalog of troubles. Earlier this month, voters rejected five budget measures, sending the state deficit to $21 billion. To overcome the gap, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed borrowing $2 billion from municipalities, using a 2004 state law that lets California demand loans of 8% of property-tax revenue from cities, counties and special districts. But that proposal lands as California municipalities are already facing steep declines in tax revenue because of the recession. Dozens are staring at huge deficits, including Pacific Grove and Stockton, which have publicly said they are exploring bankruptcy. Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, a Democrat who introduced the bankruptcy bill, said the initiative is needed to protect the credit rating of California and its ability to borrow and sell bonds. Mr. Mendoza added that he wants to avoid bankruptcy's repercussions on surrounding communities by offering a system that examines all of a municipality's options before filing for bankruptcy. "Municipalities should have a checks and balance system in place based on the fact that all economies are interconnected," he said. Dwight Stenbakken, deputy executive director for the California League of Cities, a nonprofit representing more than 400 cities, said the group is lobbying against the bill because "there's nothing a state commission can bring to the process to make this better." Write to Bobby White at [email protected]
  2. Many cities bum rush towards bankruptcy, raising taxes instead of cutting spending, but one city – Colorado Springs – has drawn the line. When sales tax revenues dropped, voters were asked to make up the shortfall by tripling their property taxes. Voters emphatically said no, despite the threat of reduced services. Those cuts have now arrived. More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled. The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter. Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks… City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. I bet they do find private funding. That and community involvement is a better solution than throwing more money to government bureaucrats. A private enterprise task force is focusing on the real problem; the city’s soaring pension and health care costs for city employees. Broadmoor luxury resort chief executive Steve Bartolin wrote an open letter asking why the city spends $89,000 per employee, when his enterprise has a similar number of workers and spends only $24,000 on each. Good question, and also the subject of my Fox Business Network show tonight. Government employee unions are a big reason cities spend themselves into bankruptcy. Some union workers in Colorado Springs make it clear that they are not volunteering to help solve the budget problems. (A) small fraction of city employees have made perfectly clear they won’t stand for pay cuts, no matter what happens to the people who pay their wages. The attitude of a loud minority of employees, toward local taxpayers, sometimes sounds like “(expletive) them.” Maybe those workers should sense change in the air. Colorado Springs residents understand that if you can’t pay for it, you can’t have it. And if a rec center has to be closed, or the cops lose their helicopters, or government workers get a pay cut, so be it. Read more: http://stossel.blogs.foxbusiness.com/2010/02/11/colorado-springs-walks-the-walk/#ixzz0fH4d5Mpd
  3. Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., a maker of cardboard packaging and one of the world’s largest paper recyclers, filed for bankruptcy in the face of falling demand and heavy debt payments. The petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, filed today in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, listed $5.6 billion in consolidated debt and $7.5 billion in consolidated assets as of Sept. 30. Twenty-four affiliates also sought protection. Smurfit-Stone, based in Chicago is North America’s second- largest maker of corrugated packaging, and has 22,000 employees in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Asia, according to its Web site. The company joins other pulp- and paper-related bankruptcies as rising Internet use hurts magazines and newspapers. Corp. Durango SAB, Mexico’s largest papermaker, sought U.S. bankruptcy in October. Quebecor World Inc., a magazine printer and Pope & Talbot Inc., a pulp-mill operator, also sought cross-border bankruptcies for their operations in the U.S. and Canada. Smurfit-Stone’s 30 largest consolidated creditors without collateral backing their claims are owed about $4.2 billion, court papers show. The Bank of New York, as agent for bondholders, has an unsecured claim of $2.2 billion, CIT Group Inc. is owed $36.8 million and British Petroleum is owed $22.1 million, according to court papers. Debt Levels Rivals AbitibiBowater Inc., Temple-Inland Inc. and International Paper Co. also have significant debt, according to Mark Wilde, an analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York. In December, Smurfit-Stone said fourth-quarter earnings would be “significantly” lower than the previous period, citing slowing demand for containers for industrial and consumer goods. It said it would reduce production of containerboard and some types of paper. Credit-rating companies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s downgraded their ratings on Smurfit-Stone’s debt shortly thereafter. Both said the company could be required to get waivers on its debt covenants. Smurfit-Stone has an $800 million revolving credit facility due Nov. 2009. Moody’s also rates an estimated $3.5 billion in debt, and noted in December that the company could need to get waivers on some of its covenants to maintain access to the revolver. Containerboard and corrugated containers are Smurfit-Stone’s main products, and it collects recycled paper as a raw ingredient through 27 recycling plants. Its net sales were $7.4 billion in 2007, and a three-year program designed to make mills more productive is slated to finish in the first half of this year, according to the company’s Web site. The case is Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., 09-10235, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
  4. Tembec Industries Files Bankruptcy as Foreign Firm (Update1) By Christopher Scinta Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Tembec Industries Inc., a unit of Montreal-based Tembec Inc., filed for protection from U.S. creditors to implement the debt restructuring approved by a Canadian court in February. The company said in papers filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York that its assets and debts exceed $1 billion. Tembec Industries filed under Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, saying it wants the debt restructuring that was approved by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to govern U.S. creditors. Chapter 15 allows foreign companies to reorganize outside the U.S. while protecting them from U.S. lawsuits and creditor claims. Holders of more than 98 percent of the company's notes and 95 percent of its stock voted earlier this year in favor of the restructuring that swapped debt for new equity, Michel Dumas, the company's chief financial officer, said in a statement to the court. Tembec had to restructure its debt due to the rising value of the Canadian dollar, declining U.S. home construction, a glut of timber because of a beetle infestation in British Columbia and falling newsprint demand, according to court papers. Douglas Bartner, an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York that filed the petition, didn't immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment. Tembec produces about 1.7 billion board feet of lumber, 1 million tons of paper and 2.1 million tons of pulp a year, according to court papers. Virtually all of Tembec's assets are in Canada, so the reorganization plan approved by the Canadian court should govern, Dumas said. Tembec joins another Canadian wood-products company, Pope & Talbot Inc., in filing for U.S. Chapter 15 as a foreign entity. The case is In re Tembec Industries Inc., 08-13435, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Scinta in New York at [email protected] Last Updated: September 4, 2008 16:37 EDT
  5. Pourquoi je mets cette nouvelles sur le site, Six Flags est le propriétaire de La Ronde. Source: CNN.com In an effort to shed $1.8 billion in debt, popular theme-park chain Six Flags announced Saturday that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing will not affect the operation of the company's 20 parks in the United States, Mexico and Canada, said spokeswoman Sandra Daniels. "This restructuring will have no impact on families who come out to our parks. They will not see an inch of difference," Daniels said. In an online letter to employees, President and CEO Mark Shapiro said Six Flags inherited a $2.4 billion debt load that "cannot be refinanced in these financial markets." "This process is strictly a financial restructuring of our debt and that's how you should view it and speak about it," Shapiro said in the message posted on the Six Flags Web site. He said Six Flags was seeking expedited approval from the for the District of Delaware of a pre-negotiated plan of reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. He said the company actually performed well in 2008, attracting 25 million visitors and making $275 million. But it could not keep up with its debt obligations. That's a balancing act you just can't risk year in and year out," he said. "Today, we are moving to rectify our balance sheet once and for all. Believe me when I say we will emerge from this process stronger and more competitive than ever." The restructuring would reduce the company's debt to $600 million. Shapiro told employees that the company was on "solid ground" and the bankruptcy decision was "difficult." He assured them their paychecks and jobs were safe.
  6. Sirius XM Prepares for Possible Bankruptcy Article Tools Sponsored By By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN and ZACHERY KOUWE Published: February 10, 2009 Last summer, Mel Karmazin was rattling off his trademark one-liners to talk up the future of Sirius XM Radio, the combined company he ran that had just been blessed by regulators. He was planning to cut costs and expand a business that was already a fixture in the lives of millions of Americans. “Forty-three cents a day — it’s not even vending machine coffee,” he said at the time, parrying a question about whether the softening economy might hurt subscriptions. But now Sirius XM, the satellite radio company, has problems with much bigger price tags. It has hired advisers to prepare for a possible bankruptcy filing, people involved in the process said. That would, of course, be a grim turn of events for the normally upbeat Mr. Karmazin, Sirius XM’s chief executive, who had hoped to create a mobile entertainment juggernaut with stars like Howard Stern. It is unclear how a bankruptcy would affect customers. Service is unlikely to be interrupted, but the company might have to terminate contracts with high-priced talent like Mr. Stern or Martha Stewart. A bankruptcy would make Sirius XM one of the largest casualties of the credit squeeze. With over $5 billion in assets, it would be the second-largest Chapter 11 filing so far this year, according to Capital IQ. The filing by Smurfit-Stone, with assets of $7 billion, has been the year’s biggest to date. Sirius XM, which never turned a profit when both companies were independent, is laden with $3.25 billion in debt. Its business model has been dependent, in part, on the ability to roll over its enormous debts — used to finance sending satellites into space and attract talent like Mr. Stern (who was paid $100 million a year) — at low rates for the foreseeable future until it could turn a profit. The company’s success and failure are also tied to the faltering fortunes of the automobile industry, which sells vehicles with its radio technology installed and represented the largest customer base among Sirius XM’s 20 million subscribers. Sirius XM owes about $175 million in debt payments at the end of February that it is unlikely to be able to pay. Sirius XM’s problems could pave the way for a takeover by EchoStar, the TV satellite company, which has bought up Sirius XM’s debt. Mr. Karmazin has been locked in talks with EchoStar’s chief executive, Charles W. Ergen, over Sirius XM’s options, people involved in the talks said. The men are said not to get along, these people said, and Mr. Karmazin had rebuffed Mr. Ergen’s takeover advances before. Sirius XM hired Joseph A. Bondi of Alvarez & Marsal and Mark J. Thompson, a bankruptcy lawyer with Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, to help prepare a Chapter 11 filing, these people said. Documents and analysis are close to completion and a filing could come in days, according to a person familiar with the matter. The threat of bankruptcy could also be part of a negotiating dance with Mr. Ergen, who could decide to convert his debt into equity instead of demanding payment. In addition to the $175 million due in February, EchoStar also owns $400 million of Sirius XM’s debt due in December. If Sirius XM files for bankruptcy, EchoStar could seek in court to take over the company. Mr. Ergen, however, may be able to negotiate to convert his shares before bankruptcy at an attractive rate and gain control of the company, these people said. For Mr. Karmazin, the sale or bankruptcy of Sirius XM would be one of his first failures. He founded Infinity Broadcasting, sold it to CBS and later merged the combined companies into Viacom, where he had a notoriously difficult relationship with Sumner M. Redstone, the chairman, before being ousted. Mr. Karmazin bought two million shares of Sirius XM at $1.37 a share in August. Before that, he had bought 20 million shares at an average price of $5 each. On Tuesday, Sirius closed at 11.4 cents a share. Since the summer, the company’s prospects have dimmed. “I’m not trying to paint the rosy picture, because we have challenges connected to our liquidity and certainly our stock price is dreadful,” Mr. Karmazin said in December. “But, you know, our revenues are growing double digits. We’re growing subscribers. We’re not losing subscribers.” A spokeswoman for Mr. Karmazin declined to comment. A spokesman for EchoStar could not be reached. Mr. Karmazin staked the success of the merger on nearly $400 million in annual cost savings and the potential to gain subscribers through deals with auto companies to put satellite radios into cars. But satellite radio failed to win over many younger listeners, and competition from other sources slowed subscriber growth.
  7. Bush offers $17.4B to automakers Ford tells White House it doesn't need bailout loan Last Updated: Friday, December 19, 2008 | 12:14 PM ET CBC News U.S. President George W. Bush pauses during a statement on the auto industry at the White House on Friday in Washington. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press) Calling it the "more responsible option," U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday dipped into the massive financial bailout package to offer $17.4 billion US in short-term loans to automakers. "If we were to allow the free market to take its course now, it would almost certainly lead to disorderly bankruptcy and liquidation for the automakers," he said during a news conference at the White House. "Under ordinary circumstances, I would say this is the price that failed companies must pay. These are not ordinary circumstances." U.S. stocks rose in trading on Friday after the president's announcement. U.S. president-elect Barack Obama praised the announcement. "Today's actions are a necessary step to help avoid a collapse in our auto industry that would have devastating consequences for our economy and workers," he said. "With the short-term assistance provided by this package, the auto companies must bring all their stakeholders together — including labour, dealers, creditors and suppliers — to make the hard choices necessary to achieve long-term viability." TARP loans The loans will come from the $700-billion financial market rescue package approved by Congress in October, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The loans will be handed out in December and January, but will be recalled if the companies are not viable by March 31, 2009. GM CEO Rick Wagoner told reporters in Detroit that he doesn't think the March deadline is impossible. "What we need to do is show we can get that stuff done on the required timeframe, and then on the basis of that we will develop future projections for the company, and I'm highly confident we'll be able to meet that test," he said. The plan requires firms to accept limits on executive compensation and eliminate certain corporate perks, such as company jets. "The automakers and its unions must understand what is at stake and make hard decisions necessary to reform," Bush said. White House officials said Ford has told them it doesn't need the loan, so the money will likely go to General Motors and Chrysler. Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli thanked the Bush administration for the help, saying it would get the companies through their immediate needs and on the path back to profitability. Ford CEO Alan Mulally said the bailout will help stabilize the industry, even though his company doesn't immediately need cash. "The U.S. auto industry is highly interdependent, and a failure of one of our competitors would have a ripple effect that could jeopardize millions of jobs and further damage the already weakened U.S. economy," Mulally said. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Congress should authorize the use of the second $350 billion from TARP. Tapping the fund for the auto industry basically exhausts the first half of the $700-billion total, he said. Collapse would be 'painful blow' Bankruptcy was unlikely to work for the auto industry at this time because the global financial crisis pushed the automakers to the brink of bankruptcy faster than they could have anticipated, Bush said. "They have not made the legal and financial preparations necessary to carry out an orderly bankruptcy proceeding that could lead to a successful restructuring," he said. Consumers, already wary of additional spending, will be more hesitant to buy a Big Three auto if they think their warranties will become worthless, said the president. "Such a collapse would deal a painful blow to hardworking Americans far beyond the auto industry." Bush said the "more responsible option" is to provide short-term loans to give the companies time to either restructure, or set up the legal and financial frameworks necessary to declare bankruptcy. The Senate failed to pass a $14-billion US bailout package to the automakers last week. Earlier this month, Ottawa and the government of Ontario reached a deal to offer money to Canada's auto industry based on a proportion of any package agreed to by U.S. officials. Auto sales have dropped drastically, with carmakers reporting their lowest sales in 26 years. With files from the Associated Press
  8. Stockton’s bankruptcy California’s Greece A city of nearly 300,000 goes bust. How many more will follow? Jun 30th 2012 | LOS ANGELES | from the print edition IN 2010 the demoralised police of Stockton mounted a roadside sign warning visitors that they were entering the state’s second most dangerous city. “Stop laying off cops!” the billboard urged. The fiscally troubled city of 290,000, in California’s depressed Central Valley, was slashing spending and cutting services in order to meet pension and health-care obligations. Violent crime had soared. Two years later, with crime still sky-high and city services even leaner, Stockton has given up. On June 26th, after months of closed-door negotiations with its creditors failed, the city council endorsed a budget plan to file for bankruptcy. The biggest municipal insolvency in American history will hit bondholders as well as former public workers whose health-care costs the city had covered. At the budget meeting former city workers with chronic medical conditions made heartfelt pleas to find another way out. But there were no more options. “Stockton is a cautionary tale about what happens if you don’t make dramatic fiscal changes to react to the broader economic picture,” says Chris Hoene of the National League of Cities, a think-tank in Washington DC. In the mid-1990s house prices soared and taxes flooded in. The city accumulated obligations to its workers and made rash spending pledges. When the market went sour in 2007-08 Stockton was left more exposed than most. Revenues dried up. As unemployment climbed above 20%, its foreclosure rate became one of the highest in the nation, where it remains. How many more Stocktons will America see? Perhaps fewer than some expect. “A great untold story is that a lot of cities are making dramatic decisions to bring their long-term fiscal solvency into line”, says Mr Hoene. Most municipalities were not as badly hit as Stockton, and so have more time to act on employee and retirement costs. Recent votes to cut pension benefits in San Jose and San Diego point to a growing reformist mood among some citizens. But in some respects Stockton is not alone. Like many Californian cities, notes Kevin Klowden of the Milken Institute in Los Angeles, it handed management of its pensions to CalPERS, a statewide fund. This locked it into obligations that reduced its budgetary autonomy. Even now it has no plans to cut pensions, for fear of incurring costly lawsuits. Other cities face similar difficulties, and demography is not on their side. Like Greece in the euro zone, Stockton represents a difference of degree, not of kind. http://www.economist.com/node/21557768
  9. L'année 2009 devrait voir un nombre reccord de faillites partout dans le monde: http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/More-Tribunes-Lehmans-likely-coming/story.aspx?guid={F40FA856-6FE7-4A28-82B0-6729F7E57CB5}
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