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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chrysler: From Bankruptcy to Super Bowl Ads

Less than a year after emerging from bankruptcy, Chrysler is surprisingly flexing some financial muscle. The auto manufacturer purchased a 60 second ad slot during the Super Bowl, the most expensive ad available for the biggest sporting event of the year.

It is uncertain precisely how much the ad cost Chrysler, who received a $7 billion bailout from the federal government last year. The 30 second slots, which are much more common during the Super Bowl, sold for about $3 million each.

The other two major U.S. auto manufacturers, Ford and General Motors, did not purchase Super Bowl ads this year. Like Chrysler, GM has recently gone through Chapter 11 bankruptcy and received more than $50 billion in government bailout funds. Both GM and Ford indicated that based on their limited resources this year, it didn't seem practical to spend so much money on a 30 or 60 second ad that would air once, when that money can go a lot farther in other marketing campaigns.

Most likely, Chrysler is trying to capitalize on an opportunity to tell a rather large viewing audience that they are back and ready to be a major player in the auto industry once again. However, it does seem surprising that the company has the money for such an expensive ad so soon after going through bankruptcy and accepting government bailout money. Perhaps this kind of spending is what got Chrysler into financial problems in the first place.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tavern on the Green Closes Due to Bankruptcy

Tavern on the Green, the iconic New York City restaurant overlooking Central Park, closed its doors for the last time on New Year's Eve. The restaurant has been a mainstay in the New York City culinary community for the past 75 years, drawing diners from across the globe.

As recently as three years ago, Tavern on the Green was plating more than 700,000 meals a year and generating annual revenues exceeding $38 million. However, the recession has dealt a crushing blow to the restaurant, sending it to bankruptcy court with more than $8 million in debt.

An auction will be held this week to sell off many of the ornate adornments which mark the restaurants décor, including chandeliers, stained glass, and a mural of Central Park. Proceeds will go towards paying off creditors.

Tavern on the Green has been owned by the LeRoy family since 1973, when Warner LeRoy took over the restaurant's lease. When he died in 2001, his wife and daughter took over the business.

A Manhattan federal judge is currently deciding whether the restaurant's name can be used by the next operator of the building. The Tavern on the Green name is valued at more than $19 million, a sum that will greatly help the LeRoys with their financial troubles if the judge rules they own the rights to the name.

Dean Poll, owner and operator of the Loeb Boathouse restaurant is expected to take over Tavern on the Green this spring, after renovating the building and modernizing the menu. The only question is whether he will be able to keep the classic name which has adorned the façade for almost a century.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

TLC Vision Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

TLC Vision Corp. and two of its subsidiaries, TLC Vision (USA) and TLC Management Services Inc., have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It is a pre-arranged reorganization, which means that their lenders have already agreed to the restructuring plan. This pre-arranged restructuring deal will most likely allow TLC Vision to move through bankruptcy much quicker.

The company, which specializes in eye care and refractive surgery, lists assets and debt between $100 million and $500 million. TLC has assured the general public that clinical patient care and obligations to employees will continue to be met during the bankruptcy process.

As part of the restructuring deal, TLC Vision has requested $15 million in debtor-in-possession financing, which will most likely be used to pay critical vendors and employee wages. Also, TLC Vision (USA) will become a private company, independent of the parent corporation. No other company affiliates or subsidiaries are involved in the bankruptcy filing.

TLC Vision Corp. is a Mississauga, Ontario company that operates 75 refractive vision centers throughout Canada and the United States. Their U.S. headquarters is based out of Chesterfield, Missouri.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Personal Bankruptcies on the Rise

The American Bankruptcy Institute recently reported that the number of Americans filing personal bankruptcy increased 9% in October. In total, 135,914 people filed bankruptcy last month. Approximately one third of these were Chapter 13 Bankruptcy filings, which places you on a repayment plan that can last as long as five years.

It is expected that more than 1.4 million people will file for bankruptcy in 2009, an increase of more than 30% from last year. This would also be the highest annual total since 2005. Furthermore, there was a 7% increase in businesses filing bankruptcy. These statistics indicate that our economy is still struggling to recover from the recession.

Many Americans are struggling to pay off debt incurred by credit cards and home equity loans. The rising unemployment rate has forced many Americans into desperate financial situations they previously did not anticipate.

Some families have been able to avoid bankruptcy by drawing on money in savings accounts and retirement funds. However, many people who have been unable to find work are starting to exhaust these safety nets and are now forced into filing bankruptcy.

The last time bankruptcies were this high, it was the result of a change in bankruptcy laws rather than a reflection of a struggling economic climate. In October 2005, Congress changed the bankruptcy laws, making it more difficult for individuals to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, which enables them to clear their debts. In an attempt to avoid having to file under Chapter 13, many people rushed to file Chapter 7 in the months before the change in the law took effect.

Unfortunately, it does not seem that the current trend of rising bankruptcies will subside until the economy turns around.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Bankruptcy Judge Orders $12M Fund for Peanut Victims

Yesterday, a U.S. bankruptcy judge ordered the insurance company for Peanut Corporation of America to earmark $12 million for a fund that will be used to reimburse victims who developed health problems after eating contaminated peanut products earlier this year.

To receive reimbursement, all victims must submit their claims to the claims administrator by October 31.

Peanut Corporation of America has faced a series of lawsuits involving a variety of peanut butter products tainted with salmonella. Investigations by health inspectors found that Peanut Corporation of America knowingly distributed tainted products to manufacturers for use in their retail products. Food products made with the tainted peanut butter included cookies, cakes, candies, crackers, and ice cream. These products were sold at grocery stores nationwide.

Hundreds of consumers suffered serious illnesses from the salmonella-contaminated peanut butter products, and at least nine people died from their consumption. After the injuries were made public, Peanut Corporation of America recalled hundreds of products containing the contaminated peanut butter.

Last February, Peanut Corporation of America declared bankruptcy after it became clear they were facing a multitude of lawsuits for their negligent actions.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Did Chrysler Stay in Bankruptcy Long Enough to Address Problems?

Earlier this year, Chrysler filed for bankruptcy in order to reorganize and hopefully become a profitable company once again. At the time, the U.S. government pushed to move Chrysler through bankruptcy as quickly as possible in order to avoid a confrontation with the United Auto Workers union over pensions and other financial issues.

Unfortunately, Chrysler's rapid movement through Chapter 11 bankruptcy may have hurt them in the long run. Many bankruptcy experts have urged the company to take the necessary time to ensure that the company emerged in better condition than they entered. It appears that Chrysler did not remain in bankruptcy long enough to properly address all of the challenges facing them in the upcoming years.

Recently, Fiat purchased a controlling minority stake in Chrysler. The company plans to make several Fiat models available in the United States in order to boost the profits of the struggling Chrysler Corporation. Fiat also plans on phasing out several Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep models that have not been profitable.

However, it is uncertain whether the help from Fiat will be able to resuscitate the floundering company. Their help may be too little, too late. Most likely, it will take at least two years for Chrysler to feel the impact of the changes brought by Fiat. Based on their current financial circumstances, it appears that Chrysler may not be able to wait that long.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hertz, Macy’s, and Goodyear among Major Companies in Danger of Bankruptcy

In our tumultuous economy, more and more large corporations are facing bankruptcy. The American auto industry has already seen two of the big three corporations, General Motors and Chrysler, file Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It appears that many other industries face the same economic hardships as the auto industry, and many companies that have long been regarded as extremely strong are treading dangerously close to bankruptcy.

Rental car giant Hertz is struggling to stay afloat amidst a sizeable debt incurred in the financing of their rental fleet. This debt is compounded by a falling rental demand among the general population. It remains to be seen whether Hertz will be able to right the ship in a hostile economic climate.

Macy's, long regarded as one of the most powerful department store chains in the country, is also facing the potential of filing bankruptcy. The company faces $2.4 billion of maturing debt over the next five years. They have tried to cut costs, but the reality is that vastly fewer people shop at department stores than ever before. Even if the economy rebounds soon, it is unlikely that Macy's will see their sales return to the level needed to maintain financial solvency.

Goodyear has recently lost a sizeable portion of the tire market share as demand for their tires has dropped. They are also financially strapped with massive debt and pension obligations. To make matters worse, The United Steelworkers union prevents Goodyear from exercising cost control measures by forcing factories to stay open.

Hopefully, these corporations will be able to pull through the tough economic times we are facing. For now, they are all playing a waiting game, and only time will tell if they can survive without filing bankruptcy.

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