On the 363 Auction Block: Imperial Toy LLC

Imperial Toy LLC has filed for chapter 11 protection in the Northern District of California. The company intends to run a sale process with a stalking horse offer in hand for $13 million from competitor Ja-Ru, Inc. (also providing $5.75 million in DIP financing). The goal? An expedited auction process with a proposed bid deadline of December 12th and a closing before year end. Have cash? Imperial Toy is seeking approval of a $650,000 breakup fee for Ja-Ru and overbids of $100,000, with an initial required overbid of $13.750 million.

Company Overview

Imperial Toy is a California-based manufacturer of bubbles, novelty toys and other children’s products.  Its brands include Blitz, Super Miracle Bubbles, KiddyUp, Zooma, Splat X, and KAOS with sub-brands such as Life-Like and Googly. The company has licensed products with Disney, Marvel, DC Comics, Little Tikes, Thomas the Train and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

Imperial Toy has facilities in five locations globally, including its headquarters in North Hills, CA; a San Diego distribution facility; a sales office in Bentonville, AK; and two manufacturing and packaging facilities in Tijuana. Its subsidiary, Imperial Entertainment International, also has a facility in Hong Kong focused on product development and supply chain management. More than 60% of Imperial Toy’s materials are sourced from the subsidiary.

Imperial generated approximately $106.7 million in revenue in 2018, roughly $78.4 million of which is domestic, and $28.2 million generated in Hong Kong.

The Slippery Slide into Bankruptcy

Various external market factors contributed to Imperial Toy’s struggles. In particular, an unusually wet spring delayed the start of its peak sales period and triggered a sharp decline in revenue. And threats of trade tariffs prompted both an inventory accumulation to protect profit margins and a drop in orders as retailers sought to limit their exposure to price increases. These trends “combined to push [Imperial Toy] into an operating loss during the time of year when it should have been profitable and drove a steeper than usual investment in working capital.”

The situation likely wasn’t helped by the fact that Imperial Toy not only took on significant indebtedness to fund growth of the business, but in February of 2018 it entered into an agreements to redeem from the Hirsch Trust 40% of the equity interests in the company. According to the debtor:

“The obligations to the Hirsch Trust originated in February 2018, when the Debtor entered into a series of redemption, loan, security and related agreements with the trust to repurchase and redeem from the Hirsch Trust 40% of the then outstanding equity of the Debtor. The Hirsch Trust received a number of promissory notes from the Debtor and Path Global Ltd., a Hong Kong entity. The Hirsch Trust began to receive cash payments from the Debtor and Path Global relating to the redemption in July 2019 [?] and such payments from the Debtor and IEI continued through the remainder of 2018. . . . The loan obligations are secured (but subordinated) . . . .

Interesting….

/Mette K.

On the Auction Block: iPic-Gold Class Entertainment, Inc.

iPic-Gold Class Entertainment, Inc. (IPIC) has filed a Chapter 11 case in Delaware to sell its business through a “363” bankruptcy auction.

iPic’s Rise… and Fall

IMG_7496.jpgiPic is a Florida-based, publicly traded movie theater and restaurant company with 16 locations in 9 states that provide a “luxurious movie-going experience at an affordable price.” iPic touts its high-quality, chef-driven culinary and mixology offerings in unique destinations that include premium movie theaters, restaurants and lounges. The debtors’ restaurant concepts include: (1) The Tuck Room, a “drinking and dining den” with locations in Florida, New York, and Texas; (2) The Tuck Room Tavern, which serves “Craveable American Cuisine” in Los Angeles; (3) Tanzy Restaurant, offering modern Italian dining in Florida and Arizona; and (4) City Perch Kitchen + Bar, with seasonal American dining in Maryland, New Jersey and New York.

After achieving double-digit growth supported by its unique offerings and market position, new market entrants and competitive pricing slowed iPic’s growth.  Although demand for shares following iPic’s 2018 IPO was “strong,” the situation was compounded when institutional investors could not fund their commitment to the offering, with the total capital raised of $17 million insufficient to fund continuing development. But the company believes that its underlying business model remains strong, “bolstered by positive guest experience and loyalty.”

A Fast, “Naked” Auction

iPic is going forward with a “naked” auction at this time, with no stalking-horse bidder in hand.  If a stalking-horse offer (e.g., opening bid) is presented before the auction, it appears that it may be possible to negotiate for typical stalking-horse protections such as expense reimbursements and break-up fees. iPic is seeking approval of a 90-day marketing process, with a proposed bid deadline of October 11, 2019 and a sale closing by the first week of November. No minimum bid has been established. The company reports store-level EBITDA of $15.06 million for the year ended December 31, 2018, and roughly $160 million in assets at book value.

The iPic Bankruptcy Docket

iPic’s claims agent is maintaining a public website with information about the case.

Additional Information

Fox Rothschild is monitoring the situation.  If you are interested in more information about the auction and the bid process, we are available to assist.

Mette H. Kurth

On the Auction Block: NovaSom, Inc.

NovaSom, Inc. has filed a Chapter 11 case in Delaware in order to sell its business through a “363” bankruptcy auction. NovaSom joins other recent healthcare industry filings by companies such as True Health, Avadel Pharma, Argos Therapeutics,

NovaSom’s Business

NovaSom is a Maryland-based home sleep testing company. In 2010-2012, it developed a device, AccuSom, that sends sleep data wirelessly rather than requiring patients to return a device to a lab to download data. It is the only in-home sleep test available in the marketplace that provides patient support and next-day test results. Additional information is available at: https://www.novasom.com/

bed-bedroom-cute-545016.jpgBetween 2013 and 2017, orders for AccuSom grew 500%. The average sales price, however, dropped by nearly 30% due to market conditions and the general availability of home sleep testing providers. The company’s filings indicate that the significant cost of growing sales has thus far prevented NovaSom from reaching profitability.

The Auction Process

At present, one entity, VirtuOx, has expressed interested in buying NovaSom’s assets for an estimated $5.3 million. The bid deadline for competing bidders is September 19, 2019 at 4:00 p.m.  (Certain qualifications must be met to qualify as a bidder).  If the company receives qualified, competing bids, the auction will be held on September 23, 2019 in Philadelphia, PA.  The sale hearing will be held two days later.

The NovaSom Bankruptcy Docket

NovaSom’s claims agent is maintaining a public website with information about the case.

Additional Information

Fox Rothschild is monitoring the situation.  If you are interested in more information about the auction and the bid process, we are available to assist.

Mette H. Kurth

Kitten Heels are Dead. Long Live Kitten Heels.

The retailpocolypose is continuing at full speed, impacting retailers both here in the US and across the pond. Clothing retailer LK Bennett Ltd. is the latest High Street casualty, closing five stores and going into administration in the UK. It is joined by its New York-based subsidiary, L.K. Bennett U.S.A., which has filed for chapter 11 protection in the Delaware Bankruptcy Court.

Company Background

Opening in London in 1990 to bring “a bit of Bond Street luxury to High Street,” LK Bennett quickly established itself as an upmarket retailer. And its founder, Ms Bennett, just as quickly established herself as “the Queen of the Kitten Heel.” Bennett’s “smart” dayware is a favorite of Princess Kate Middleton and other celebrities. And even Prime Minister Theresa May has been knows to step out in LK Bennett kitten heels.

Faltering Steps

Corporate missteps and a challenging retail environment have led to declining sales and, ultimately, bankruptcy.  Many of the elements of the LK Bennett story are all too familiar.

  • The UK clothing and footwear sector are suffering from price deflation, leaving LK Bennett priced beyond the reach of most shoppers.
  • Today’s retail environment is all about authenticity and distinctiveness; LK Bennett has failed to embrace a sense of uniqueness and creativity that would set it apart from more competitively priced competitors in a saturated market.
  • An excessive number of stores at above-market rates – exacerbated by decreasing foot traffic and overdependence on sales at brick & mortar locations – has left the company struggling with excessive lease costs.
  • LK Bennett has also failed to connect with its young consumers via social media and has been overtaken by younger, more-affordable and digitally-savvier brands. (Sorry, Prime Minister.)
  • Ownership changes have left strategies in flux without time to take root and come to fruition.

And by the way…. is an “affordable luxury brand” even a thing?  Are consumers who are willing to invest in a luxury pair of shoes more likely to go all in and aim for a recognized high-fashion shoe brand, such as Jimmy Choo? 

What Comes Next for LK Bennett?

Interested buyers have been actively pursuing the company, at least in the UK. Similarly to (much, much) edgier UK lingerie brand and retailer Agent Provocateur, LK Bennet’s counterpart bankruptcy filing for its US subsidiary has likewise been teed up to pursue a sale.

Case Information

L.K. Bennett U.S.A. is represented by DLA Piper as counsel and Ernst & Young as restructuring advisor. The case number is 19-10760. The case has been assigned to Judge Kevin Gross.

Mette H. Kurth

Argos Therapeutics Files Bankruptcy to Pursue a Sale

 Argos Therapeutics filed for chapter 11 protection in Delaware on Nov. 30th with a proposed buyer in hand. The bankruptcy follows the termination of an unsuccessful phase 3 clinical trial of its most advanced cancer-treatment product. Now, Argos seeks to run a going-concern sale process with Cellscript, LLC as a “stalking horse” buyer.  Argos values Cellscript’s opening bid at $3.8 million.

Who Is Argos Therapeutics?

Argos is an immunotherapy company based in North Carolina. It is publicly traded, with shares trading on the NASDAQ until April 23. After its common stock was de-listed as of April 25, Argos transferred its common stock to the OTCQB Venture Market.

Argos focuses on developing individualized immunotherapies to treat cancer and infectious diseases. The company derives its primary revenue from third-party license agreements and government grants. But the company has been far from profitable, with a net loss of $40.6 million for 2017.

The company built its immunotherapies on its Arcelis® technology platform.

Arcelis is a precision immunotherapy technology that captures the spectrum of mutated and variant antigens that are specific to each patient’s individual disease . . . to overcome immunosuppression by enabling specifically targeted, durable memory T-cells without adjuvants that may be associated with toxicity.

Confused?  Here’s a helpful diagram.

Argos-Arcelis-Platform_AGS-003_Activate-Neo-Immunity.png

Ummm…. Still confused? If you have 15 minutes, Jeff Abbey provides a thorough explanation here.

Practically speaking, a buyer might use the Arcelis platform to treat a range of different cancers and infectious diseases. And according to Argos (notwithstanding its bankruptcy), the platform is valuable because it may circumvent manufacturing and commercialization challenges that have impeded other personalized immunotherapies.

The Proposed Sale to Cellscript

Argos has engaged in an extensive marketing effort to capitalize on its intellectual property, its manufacturing capabilities, and its position as a publicly traded entity.  Ultimately, Cellscript – one of Argos’ largest unsecured creditors – presented a purchase offer. The bid includes $1.675 million in cash, cure costs and assumed liabilities valued at no less than $1.4 million, and the “release” of Cellscript’s $2 million unsecured claim against Argus, valued at a minimum of $700,000.

Argos has proposed a $75,000 breakup fee and a $75,000 expense reimbursement. Initial overbids must total at least $4,095,330, with subsequent overbid increments of at least $100,000.  And it proposes the following sale timeline:

  • Bid deadline: Jan. 16, 2019
  • Auction: Jan. 22, 2019

The court has scheduled the bid procedures motion for hearing on Dec. 20, 2018.

Case Information

Argos is represented by Landis Rath & Cobb as bankruptcy counsel, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr as special corporate counsel, and SSG Advisors as investment banker. Judge Kevin Carey is presiding over the case (#18-12714).

Mette K.