Jacksonville shipping company Trailer Bridge emerges from bankruptcy
Mar 17, 2012 (Menafn - The Florida Times-Union - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --A major shipping company in Jacksonville emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday after a federal judge approved a financial restructuring agreement with its note holders to reconcile its debt.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jerry Funk approved the agreement between Trailer Bridge and its major note holders to refinance 82.5 million in bonds. Under the agreement, the holders of those notes will receive a prorated share of 65 million in new notes and 91 percent interest in the company.
"It means that all the employees keep their jobs," said Gardner Davis, the attorney for Trailer Bridge during the bankruptcy proceeding. "It's business as usual, but Trailer Bridge is now stronger and better financed."
The agreement means trade creditors will get at least 95 percent of their claim in cash. Bondholders get new bonds and previous stockholders get 9 percent of the stock or 15 cents a share in cash, whichever option they choose, Davis said.
The stock reached a high of 14.75 in 2007 but was down to pennies before being delisted by Nasdaq following the bankruptcy filing. Trailer Bridge was forced into bankruptcy because its bond debt became due and "it was impossible to refinance that debt in the current credit market," Davis said.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy, under federal law, provides protection to corporations from their creditors as they reorganize their finances.
The agreement makes SEACOR Holdings, the biggest note-holder, the largest shareholder in the company. SEACOR is already in the aviation and marine business.
Trailer Bridge is one of the key shipping companies among the Jacksonville Port Authority's clients. It will continue to make the regular twice-weekly trips from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Despite the reorganization that took a relatively brief span of four months -- some Chapter 11 bankruptcies can take years -- Davis said Trailer Bridge has remained a solid organization.
"Every shipment during the bankruptcy and every sailing was on time and there was no interruption to customers," Davis said.
Meanwhile, Davis added, the reorganization bolsters stability at the port.
"This is very positive news for the JaxPort community," he said. "We have a key local maritime carrier that has been preserved."
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