North American Fur Auction

North American Fur Auction, an international fur auction house with a history dating back to 1670 and the historic Hudson's Bay Company, obtained protection under the CCAA on October 31. Based in Toronto, the company sells in excess of USD $200.0 million worth of fur products annually at the auctions it conducts. The company also lends funds to farmers/ranchers who use the loans to fund the development of minks. The farmers are then contractually bound to deliver those mink to NAFA for auction. The annual lending cycle ends around the end of November. Thereafter, the mink are harvested and turned into pelts for auction. Historically, the company has bridged the gap between lending and harvest with funds from a syndicate of lenders led by CIBC. The credit facilities typically range from $40.0 to $60.0 million, depending on the time of year. The syndicate made demand in the summer of 2019, however, and ultimately stopped funding in late September. Facing a looming liquidity crisis, the company negotiated an LOI with SAGA Furs, one of its principal competitors, to acquire certain of its loans. The proceeds from this transaction, along with DIP funding in the CCAA proceedings, will allow the company to harvest its current mink crop and thereafter reconsider its business operations. Deloitte was appointed monitor. KPMG is financial advisor to the company. Alvarez & Marsal is financial advisor to CIBC. Waygar Capital is providing a $5.0 million DIP loan. Counsel is Blaney McMurtry for the company, Miller Thomson for the monitor, TGF for BDC, Blakes for CIBC and Aird & Berlis for Waygar Capital.

DEL Equipment

DEL Equipment, a Newmarket, Ontario-based truck body builder and truck equipment upfitter, filed for protection under the CCAA on October 22. Operating nation-wide from six manufacturing and distribution locations, the company is currently facing a liquidity crisis and is in significant arrears to many of its suppliers. In June 2017, Gin-Cor Industries, a company that operates in the same field, acquired a 40% equity stake in DEL and assumed management control of the company. The majority of the anticipated business synergies failed to materialize, however, and in July 2018 the transaction was terminated and control of the business reverted back to DEL's previous sole shareholder. Despite this, the company's operational challenges have continued, and DEL is now more than $8.0 million in arrears to its supplier base, many of whom have begun to compress payment terms. Adding to this, the company has become embroiled in a payment dispute; a customer inadvertently remitted approximately $874.1 thousand to Gin-Cor instead of DEL and Gin-Cor is now refusing to return the funds. While under creditor protection, the company will seek to resolve the payment dispute. It also will attempt to complete a going-concern sale of the business or a restructuring transaction. MNP was appointed monitor. Counsel is Goodmans for the company and GSNH for the monitor.

Forever XXI ULC

Forever XXI ULC, the Canadian operating subsidiary of US-based retailer Forever 21, obtained protection under the CCAA on September 29. The filing occurred on the same day the company's parent filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US. In Canada, the company operates 44 retail stores in malls across the country, selling apparel, accessories and other products under the Forever 21 and other related brands. While the company's initial expansion into the Canadian market in 2001 was promising, it has struggled to maintain profitability, and the vast majority of its stores are unprofitable. As part of its global restructuring plan, Forever 21 has determined that it will exit substantially all of its international markets, including Canada. Following a pre-filing bid solicitation process, the company selected Gordon Brothers and Merchant Retail Solutions to jointly conduct an orderly liquidation of the Canadian inventory and other assets. PwC was appointed monitor. Alvarez & Marsal is the company's financial advisor. Counsel is Osler for the company, Goodmans for the monitor, Norton Rose Fulbright for lender J.P. Morgan Chase, Cassels Brock for Gordon Brothers, Torys for Cadillac Fairview and Gardiner Roberts for Oxford Properties.

Bellatrix Exploration (TSX: BXE)

Bellatrix Exploration (TSX: BXE), a Calgary, Alberta-based oil and gas company, obtained protection under the CCAA on October 2. Facing declining revenues and increasing liquidity challenges as a result of prolonged difficult market conditions, the company made several attempts to improve its capital structure. In June 2019, the company completed a recapitalization transaction pursuant to a CBCA plan of arrangement that, among other things, reduced its debt obligations by approximately $110.0 million. Despite this, commodity prices have slid lower in the last several months, resulting in a near term liquidity crisis. In light of these challenges, the company sought creditor protection to provide stability for the business, additional time to pursue a sale and investment solicitation process and time to advance potential restructuring alternatives. The CCAA proceedings will also give the company access to much needed interim financing. PwC is the monitor. Counsel is Goodmans for the company and BLG for the monitor.

Energold Drilling

Energold Drilling, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based drilling contractor, obtained protection under the CCAA on September 13. Operating in 25 countries, the company's revenues have been adversely impacted by the deterioration of the markets it serves - in particular, the general downturn in mining that commenced in or around 2012 and the subsequent general downturn in oil and gas that commenced in or around 2014. While conditions in the mining sector have shown some signs of improving in recent years, neither the mining or energy sectors have recovered to their previously robust levels of activity. The company's restructuring plan includes reducing its debt load, cutting costs in its corporate office, selling non-core assets and refocusing attention to its remaining operating units. FTI was appointed monitor. EY was appointed financial advisor to the company. Portage Point Partners was appointed CRO. Counsel is BLG for the company, Cassels Brock for the monitor, Gowling WLG for EDC, Clark Wilson for Extract Advisors LLC as administrative agent to the secured noteholders, McCarthy Tétrault for RBC and Stikeman Elliott for the DIP lender.

Stornoway Diamond (TSX-SWY)

Stornoway Diamond (TSX-SWY), a Montreal, Quebec-based diamond mining company that owns and operates Quebec's first and only diamond mine, obtained protection under the CCAA on September 9. Construction of the company's mine in Northern Quebec commenced in 2014, funded by a $946.0 million financing package that included equity, senior and convertible debt, equipment financing and the world's first ever diamond stream. The project was heavily supported by the Quebec government, which considered the mine an integral component of its "Plan Nord" initiative to enable development of the northern part of the province and its local communities. Commercial production commenced in 2017, but the mine's performance fell significantly short of expectations as a result of delays in the ramp-up of the mine, lower grade ore, and higher-than-anticipated levels of diamond breakage. Adding to the company's difficulties was a declining price for rough diamonds. When production commenced, the market price was US $147/carat. By the second quarter of 2019, the price was only US $76 / carat. Unable to operate profitably under its current conditions, and with no additional liquidity available, the company concluded that it had to restructure its balance sheet and launched a sale and investment solicitation process in April 2019. The process led to a proposed transaction with certain of the company's existing stakeholders, which the company will attempt to complete while under creditor protection. Deloitte was appointed monitor. Counsel is Norton Rose Fulbright for the company, Osler for the monitor, McCarthy Tétrault for Investissement Québec and Diaquem and Fasken for the Caisse.

Gedex Systems

Gedex Systems, a Mississauga, Ontario-based developer of airborne geological imaging technology, obtained protection under the CCAA on August 12, on application by FCMI, a secured creditor owed approximately US $10.3 million. Gedex was in the process of developing a proprietary system to discover and develop underground mineral and oil and gas resources but had not yet reached the stage of commercial profitability. Facing a working capital deficiency of over US $9.5 million and an operating deficit in excess of US $91.8 million, the company recently laid off all of its remaining employees and was canvassing the market for a potential purchaser or investor. The CCAA filing is intended to preserve the going concern value of the company while a court-supervised SISP is conducted. Zeifmans is the monitor. Counsel is Dentons for the applicant, DLA Piper for the company and Miller Thomson for the monitor.

Miniso Canada

Miniso Canada, the Canadian-based retailer of Miniso, a global retail brand ("Miniso Global"), obtained protection under the CCAA on July 11. Launched in 2017, the Canadian company has grown to 67 stores across the country, operating under a license agreement with Miniso Global. A dispute arose in the fall of 2018 over the quantum of debt owed to Miniso Global which led to Miniso Global demanding repayment and filing a bankruptcy application against its Canadian partner. A forbearance agreement was ultimately reached in January 2019 between the parties that required Miniso Canada to, among other things, enter into good faith negotiations for the sale of the Canadian operations to Miniso Global. A transaction never transpired, and when the forbearance agreement expired on June 25, repayment was again demanded. Rather than appointing a receiver, Miniso Global elected to make an application for CCAA protection for the Canadian company so as to maintain enterprise value. Alvarez & Marsal was appointed monitor and has been given enhanced powers to manage the Canadian operations during the proceedings while a restructuring transaction is pursued. Counsel is Fasken for Miniso Global, McMillan for Miniso Canada and Dentons for the monitor.

ILTA Grain

ILTA Grain, a Surrey, British Columbia-based grain producer, filed for protection under the CCAA on July 7, listing $149.5MM in liabilities. Founded in 2011, the company has become one of the two largest processors of quality grains in Canada, operating from six state-of-the-art facilities in Saskatchewan. As part of its growth strategy, the company has made significant efforts to export its products internationally. Over the past few years, however, the company has faced increasingly challenging international trade conditions as countries such as India, China and Saudi Arabia have decided to limit, and in some cases, entirely discontinue their Canadian imports. The reduction in international sales, coupled with a highly leveraged balance sheet, has left the company without the working capital necessary to fund operations and service its debt. While under creditor protection the company will explore its strategic alternatives, including conducting a sale and investment solicitation process. PwC was appointed monitor. Stikeman Elliott is counsel for the company.

North American Lithium

North American Lithium, an Abitibi, Quebec-based minerals mining company, obtained protection under the CCAA on May 28, owing its creditors approximately $210.0MM, including $99.0MM to Investissement Québec (IQ). Until recently, the company operated a mine producing spodumene, the mineral from which lithium, a chemical widely used to produce batteries, is extracted. The lithium battery market is principally located in China. In recent months, the global price of both lithium carbonate and spodumene have plummeted by 60% as a result of increased supply, primarily from Australia, where producers have lower extraction costs and are in closer proximity to the Chinese markets. Unable to operate profitably under the new market conditions, the company halted production in February 2019. Shortly thereafter, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources advised that it would commence enforcement proceedings against the company unless it put up a financial guarantee of approximately $23.0MM to cover the costs of a potential rehabilitation and restoration plan. While under creditor protection, the company intends to explore a recapitalization of the business. Raymond Chabot was appointed monitor. Counsel is Fasken for the company, McCarthy Tétrault for IQ, Norton Rose Fulbright for shareholder Contemporary Amperex Technology Canada and Woods for shareholder Jien International Investment.

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