Two Bidders for Whitehall?

There may be two bidders who want to buy Whitehall Jewelers, according to this bankruptcy hearing transcript (go to “docket,” and then “349”).

On page 9 of the hearing, a Whitehall lawyer notes:

… we do have one actual serious written offer from a going concern bidder and another seriously interested strategic buyer that has been at the company, and we’re hoping to get something out of them shortly.

 

However, that lawyer also mentions …

 

… the going concern bid that we did receive … is a hybrid bid. It contemplates a go-forward relationship for a core amount of stores, but for the unprofitable stores, they have partnered up with a liquidator. (p. 30)

 

Later in the hearing (p. 163), a lawyer for Gitanjali USA announces that it is the “going-concern” bidder, together with Gordon Brothers. Gitanjali, an India-based sightholder, also owns Samuels and Rogers; its interest in Whitehall has been previously reported. The second bidder was not identified. The auction is set to take place July 31.

 

Most of the latter part of the hearing was taken up with consignment issues, which I’ve talked about here and here and are still up in the air. Whitehall’s arguments are here (docket 314); I also commend this analysis which argues that, if Whitehall is able to lay claim to consignment goods, it will hurt other jewelers that depend on memo merchandise. 

There is a lot to digest in the transcript, but I was struck by this interchange between Whitehall CFO Peter Michielutti and Alan Kolod, counsel for the creditor’s committee:

 

Q: Are you aware of how many chief executive officers the company has had in the past few years?

A: I am.

Q: How many?

 

A: Seven.

 
Q: Seven. All right, and in what period of time?

 
A: Since early 2005.

 

Q: Is that a typical situation for a public company?

 

A: I am not aware of another situation where there’s been seven chief executives, but there could be.

And if there was, I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up in the exact same situation Whitehall’s in now.

 

 

JCK News Director