Algold Resources Ltd. (TSX: ALG), a Montreal, Quebec-based junior mining company that focuses on the exploration and development of gold deposits in West Africa, filed an NOI on January 15, listing approximately $16.8 million in liabilities, including $9.8 million to Aya Gold & Silver Inc. ("AGS"). The pre-COVID-19 pandemic macro-economic background of gold, including increasing interest rates, stronger USD, and the downward trended price of gold, has led to a challenging financing environment for junior gold exploration projects. In addition, the jurisdiction in which the company operates, Mauritania, has been the object of certain negative perceptions in the industry and among investors that have made it more difficult to attract financing and support. Confronted with various liquidity issues and difficulties in raising debt or equity financing, the company ceased its operations on November 19. In June 2020, IIROC issued a cease trade order against the company. AGS, a Canadian mineral exploration and development company, has notified the company of its interest in providing interim financing during the court-supervised restructuring proceedings. Raymond Chabot is the proposal trustee. Counsel is Lapointe Rosenstein Marchand Melançon for the company and Dentons for AGS.
Salt Bush Energy Ltd., a Calgary, Alberta-based resource company engaged in the production and development of oil and natural gas assets, filed an NOI on January 13, listing approximately $19.9 million in liabilities, including $16.5 million to Whitebark Energy Limited ("Whitebark"). The company attributes its financial difficulties to several factors. Over the last three years, the company made significant capital expenditures in connection with its assets; however, production has not yet matched such expenditures. Low production volumes, declining oil prices, and large operating costs have all contributed to create what is now an urgent need to inject additional capital into the company's operations. In January, Whitebark informed the company that it was no longer willing to fund ongoing operations. In connection with Deloitte, the proposal trustee, the company has developed a SISP which contemplates an Asset Purchase Agreement between the company and Ironbark Energy Ltd., a wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary of Whitebark. During these proceedings, Whitebark will provide up to $150.0 thousand in interim financing to the company. McCarthy Tétrault is counsel to the company.
EzTix Event Ticketing Inc., a Vancouver, British Columbia-based company that provides ticketing solutions to event organizers around the world, filed an NOI on November 30 and a proposal to its creditors on December 29. The company lists approximately $1.1 million in liabilities. McEown and Associates is the proposal trustee.
Studio Black Suede Inc., a Montreal, Quebec-based premium footwear brand, filed an NOI on December 24, 2020 owing approximately $434.0 thousand to CIBC. Litwin Boyadjian is the proposal trustee.
Brant Telephone Inc., a Burlington, Ontario-based telecommunications interconnect company, filed an NOI on December 11, 2020 and a proposal to its creditors on January 6, 2021. The company was founded in the 1980s and grew into an integrator of Unified Communications and Contact Centre solutions concentrating in Avaya premise-based systems. The company lists approximately $2.1 million in liabilities. Albert Gelman is the proposal trustee. Counsel is WeirFoulds for the proposal trustee and Keyser Mason Ball for the company.
33 Laird Inc., 33 Laird GP Inc. and 33 Laird Limited Partnership, entities created for the purpose of pursuing a commercial real estate development project in Toronto, Ontario, each filed an NOI on November 28. The project is in the early stages of construction, with part of the structural work complete, but very little mechanical or electrical work and no finishing work. The Project was principally financed through secured loan facilities with DUCA Financial Services Credit Union Ltd. (“DUCA”). DUCA made a demand on its loan and security on November 19, having identified various financial issues with the project, including cost overruns, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on costs, timeline to complete, and also potential viability of the proposed tenants, which would impact takeout financing at the end of the project in order to allow DUCA as the construction lender to exit. MNP was appointed proposal trustee. Counsel is Goldman Sloan Nash & Haber for the companies and Weisz Fell Kour for MNP as proposal trustee.
Directions East Retail Ltd., a Toronto, Ontario-based jewellery retailer with a 50-year history, filed an NOI on October 30. Since 2017, the company's sales have declined significantly due to reduced mall traffic and a surge in competing internet sales. Although the company began consolidating its operations in 2019, it was forced to totally shut down operations with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020. When operations re-opened in July, the company had further terminated five of its retail locations. Shortly after, RBC — which had been the company's banker since 1972 — sent the company a demand letter and Notice of Intention to Enforce Security. Given that holiday season sales are critical to the company's financial outlook, the company will wait to file a proposal until after it reviews the financial results of the 2020 holiday season. Rosen Goldberg is the proposal trustee. Counsel is Minden Gross for RBC and Fogler, Rubinoff for the proposal trustee.
Welland Forge Corp., a Welland, Ontario-based manufacturer of custom metal forgings, filed an NOI on October 27, listing approximately $11.3 million in liabilities. Welland Forge Corp.’s biggest customers have historically been in the automotive industry. Its customers are particularly vulnerable to the volatile nature of the oil and gas industry, and the pandemic has exacerbated that volatility. Earlier in the year, the company suffered the loss of its major customer, which accounted for approximately 65% of the company's sales, to an overseas supplier. Accordingly, the company has identified the need to wind down its operations. The company previously terminated its approximately 60 employees. BDO is the proposal trustee. Counsel is Miller Thomson for the proposal trustee and Madorin Snyder for the companies.
HOW Fashions International Inc., Montreal, Quebec-based importer and distributor of women’s and men’s high-end fashion brand clothing and accessories, and 9896481 Canada Inc., the owner of certain trademarks related to fashion brands sold by HOW Fashions International Inc., each filed an NOI on October 22. The business suffered drastic financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in the brand and the related merchandise having little realizable value. HSBC, the companies' senior secured creditor, engaged EY to assess the companies' operations with the companies' advisors. In August, the companies and their advisors began to implement a recovery and exit plan, including soliciting prospective purchasers for the sale of some or all of the companies’ assets. This resulted in the companies receiving an offer made by Captive Brands Corp. to purchase all of the companies’ intellectual property, as well as assets of its US counterpart, HOW International USA, Inc. The Quebec Superior Court (Commercial Division) granted an Approval and Vesting Order on October 29. EY is the proposal trustee. Counsel is Kugler Kandestin for the companies, Scheib Legal for Captive Brands Corp., Davies for HSBC and Fasken for the proposal trustee.
Greenfire Oil and Gas Ltd. and Greenfire Hangingstone Operating Corporation, Calgary, Alberta-based energy technology companies focused on the development of in-situ oil sands projects, filed NOIs on October 8, respectively listing $8.3 million and $17.8 million in liabilities. Starting in the first quarter of 2020, the sole marketer of the bitumen produced at the companies' facility failed to make payment on over 300,000 barrels of bitumen that the companies had produced. This resulted in a severe working capital and liquidity shortage, leading to the termination of all employees in May 2020. In addition, the companies' strategic process has been complicated by the public health emergency caused by COVID-19. Alvarez & Marsal is the proposal trustee. Counsel is Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer for the companies, McMillan for the proposal trustee and Blakes for secured lender, Summit Partners.