Any of you with first-generation, immigrant parents will appreciate that some things simply don’t translate.
Lost in Translation: Asparagus Legs!
My mother immigrated to the US from Denmark in 1967, swept off her feet by the charming American GI who would later become my father. And every spring, seemingly inexplicably, but without fail, my mother would throw open the doors, step out into the sunshine, and tsk in that very Danish way of hers. “Look at those asparagus legs!” she would exclaim, scrutinizing some unfortunate young woman. My brother and I were perplexed. We were mortified. We hoped that, with her thick “Swedish Chef” accent, nobody had understood her.
Danish Asparagus: The King of Vegetables
What I later learned is that, if you are Danish, asparagus reigns supreme, the king of all vegetables. Their asparagus season lasts only a few weeks in the spring. And – wait for it! – the asparagus is white or green. But it is the white asparagus, grown mostly underground on their northern coast, that they crave. And when the crop comes in, chefs at fine restaurants worldwide compete to buy up all of this white asparagus before the season ends. Or the Danes eat it all. So if you are Danish, asparagus season is a Very Big Deal. The kind of big deal that requires fine white linen napkins and the best family silver. (Seriously. If you are looking for a recipe for white asparagus, you might try White Asparagus with Egg, Parsley and Butter. Very, very Danish.)
Landing the Plane… in Delaware
So, when the arctic blast finally moved on, and the temperature rose to a lovely, Scandinavian-like 67 degrees here in Delaware, I moved my slacks to the back of my closet. I stepped outside in my dress and heels. And I looked down in horror. “Oh, no! Look at those asparagus legs!” That’s right, five months of Delawarean winter, starved of sunlight… and my legs are as white as Danish asparagus.
Time to start planning a vacation in Hawaii next Christmas.
Regional grocery chains continue to struggle as Supermarket chain Tops Markets filed for bankruptcy protection in Manhattan yesterday. (Is the re-pocalypse heading for your local grocer? Learn more here
Tops operates 169 full-service supermarkets, 168 under the Tops trade name and one under Orchard Fresh. And franchisees operate five more. The markets are focused on key regions in upstate New York, Northern Pennsylvania, and Vermont.
Tops’ Bankruptcy Objectives
The company has identified three core objectives: reducing its debt, renegotiating or cancelling leases and supply agreements, and negotiating with its labor unions.
Tops hopes to complete its bankruptcy process in roughly six months. During its first three months, it plans to focus on creditor negotiations. Then, if all goes well, it will implement its negotiated plan. Towards that end, it has agreed to some milestones:
- April 2, 2018: Entry of final orders approving its financing;
- May 7, 2018: Execution of a restructuring support agreement with key lenders;
- July 21, 2018: Filing of a disclosure statement and solicitation of a plan acceptable to its key lenders, with confirmation 60 days thereafter.
Financing to Support Its Operations
The company says it has sufficient liquidity to fund operations, and it plans to continue business as usual. It has been negotiating with an ad hoc committee of its senior secured noteholders regarding a “consensual deleveraging transaction.” (In English, Tops has asked its secured lenders to forgive some of its debt.) That committee will provide a $125 million loan to support the bankruptcy filing. And Bank of America, the company’s asset-based lender, will provide a $140 million, revolving credit facility.
In addition, the court has authorized Tops to pay up to $10 million to vendors for goods delivered postpetition and up to $5.3 million for employee wages. And C&S Wholesale Grocers, which procures most of the company’s for-resale goods, has agreed to provide Tops with an additional week of trade terms.
On Friday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m. Eastern, Reorg. Research will host a webinar about the case. Their team will provide an overview of the company and its financials and discuss the bankruptcy filing, including highlights from the first day hearing. If you have questions, stay for the Q&A session at the end. You can register here
The Bankruptcy Docket
The case has been assigned to Judge Robert Drain (#18-22279 (RDD)). Tops is represented by Weil, Gotshal & Manges as legal counsel. Its investment banker is Evercore Group. FTI Consulting is the financial advisor. And its real estate advisor is Hilco Real Estate. The docket and additional information is available from Epiq
, the company’s claims agent.
Four months ago Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 hurricane packing 155 mph winds when it made landfall. The storm thrust the island into darkness. Today, about 35% of the island still lacks power. While most of the island has water, questions remain about how much of it is potable.
On April 4, 2018, the ABI Endowment Fund will team up with The Mariano Rivera Foundation to raise much-needed funds to benefit Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico. This event, to be held in Manhattan during the first week of baseball season, is more than a great opportunity to network with colleagues over appetizers and an open bar. You will get to meet legendary New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera while the insolvency community gives back to the territory that has occupied so much of the bankruptcy news for the past few years.