Without much adieu, the purchase by the joint venture of The Sports Authority and Hilco Real Estate of the remaining Copeland Sports stores has been approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Delaware. Going-out-business sales are scheduled to commence over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
The court ruled that "proper, timely, adequate and sufficient notice of the motion, the auction (if any), and the approval hearing has been provided," despite objections by potential bidders.
The strongest objection came from a joint venture between Crystal Capital Fund Management and The Great American Group -- the latter of which oversaw going-out-of-business sales at 11 stores already shuttered. The group had stated in a Nov. 6 court document that they were interested in the stores, and that Crystal and Great American have been working with Sport Chalet to develop a proposal "that will provide more value to the debtor" than the current bid. However, the group wanted until Nov. 17 for the auction and Nov. 20 for the approval, instead of the Nov. 16 auction and Nov. 17 approval. (Click here to read a Nov. 8, 2006, SNEW® story, "Objections surface to TSA/Hilco's bid for Copeland.") No other bids were, however, received by the court.
The court in its approval of the TSA/Hilco "stalking horse bid" noted that Copeland had complied with the procedures and had "afforded interested potential purchasers a fair and reasonable opportunity to qualify as bidders and submit their highest or otherwise best offer."
With the court approval, the TSA/Hilco group will acquire all assets free and clear of all mortgages, charges, loan agreements, leases, liens and other encumbrances or debts. When in compliance with lease agreements, the debtor is permitted to "go dark" between the conclusion of the sale termination dates and the effective date of assignment of the leases to the TSA. The court also scheduled a hearing of Dec. 8 on the assumption and assignment of the leases of the remaining stores.
Also established were strict going-out-of-business sales guidelines that approve the use only of "going out of business," "total liquidation" and "store closing," but forbids the use of the term "bankruptcy" in all print and electronic media.
Although there has been no comment about employees from management, SNEWS® has been told by those close to remaining staff at Copeland that any managers still employed are now actively looking for positions elsewhere. What employees called "Black Friday" three weeks ago on Oct. 27 already saw the dismissal of many managers.