Freemark Apparel Brands, a Montreal, Quebec-based retail company that operated Bench stores across Canada, filed an NOI on January 21, listing $41.0 million in liabilities, including $15.1 million to Accord Financial, $4.5 million to Gordon Brothers, and $1.5 million to Briva Financial. According to reports, the company will be shutting down all 24 of its brick-and-mortar stores as part of the restructuring and will shift its focus to the e-commerce side of its business. Richter is the proposal trustee.
Gestion Knighstbridge, a Montreal, Quebec-based residential real estate developer, was deemed bankrupt on January 9, listing $2.9 million in liabilities, including $373.6 thousand to RBC. The company had previously filed an NOI on November 15. The company attributes its financial difficulties to numerous factors that negatively impacted its cash flow, including delays in obtaining approvals from municipal authorities which postponed the launch of ongoing projects; an increase in construction costs and shortage of skilled labour; and cost overruns on certain projects. Richter is the bankruptcy trustee.
Nemaska Lithium (TSX: NMX), a Montreal, Quebec-based minerals mining company, obtained protection under the CCAA on December 23. The company is is in the process of developing a mine in the James Bay Region of Quebec that it hopes will enable it to become one of thew world's most significant lithium salts producer and supplier to the emerging lithium battery market. To date, over $616.0 million has been spent on construction and engineering costs, funded by a combination of debt and equity from government and private sources, including Softbank. In February 2019 it was determined that additional funds of approximately $375.0 million were required to complete construction of the mine and processing plant. Significant efforts were undertaken to find investors, buyers or partners but to date no binding agreements have been reached. Despite a strong long-term outlook for lithium, prices have recently plummeted as a result of increased supply, primarily from Australia, where producers have lower extraction costs and are in closer proximity to the Chinese markets. The mine is currently in a care and maintenance program as the company seeks to conserve cash while it evaluates its restructuring options. PwC is the monitor. Counsel is McCarthy Tétrault for the company, Goodmans and Woods for Nordic Trustee AS, Miller Thomson for Bird Civil & Mines, Torys for OMF Fund II (N) Ltd., Dentons for Chubb Insurance, Norton Rose Fulbright for Investissement Québec and Lavery for Allied World Specialty Insurance
8318085 Canada, a Montreal, Quebec-based company which designs, imports and distributes women’s outerwear garments, its main focus being coats, filed an NOI on December 17, listing $10.8 million in liabilities, including $2.1 million to RBC and $1.1 million to Jiangsu Sainty Glorious Trade. Several factors led to the company’s insolvency, including a reduction in sales as well as the introduction of a new software system that resulted in inaccurate reporting of the business’ performance. Although the company is currently still in operation, it must promptly complete its activities related to the spring and winter 2020 seasons - such as booking orders and making purchases - in order to maintain viability. As part of the restructuring, the company will undergo a sale and solicitation process to market the business to potential acquirers, investors, or strategic partners. KPMG is the proposal trustee. Kugler Kandestin is counsel to the company.
Fortress Global Enterprises (TSX: FGE), a Montreal, Quebec-based company engaged in the dissolving pulp business and the renewable energy generation sector, obtained protection under the CCAA on December 16. Previously known as Fortress Paper, the company changed its name in 2018 to reflect its intention to shift away from traditional pulp and paper operations and pursue opportunities in new business segments. The majority of the company's revenues is now derived from the production and sale of dissolving pulp, a product with a variety of commercial applications, including the production of rayon textile fibres. The market for dissolving pulp, however, has not been favourable for the company, with prices dropping from almost $950 USD per ton in 2017 to $640 USD per ton this year. Other factors have also contributed to the company's financial difficulties, including the recent Sino-American economic conflict which is disrupting markets and the garment sector which Fortress serves. In the past three years, the company has lost approximately $246.6 million. In consultation with its senior secured lenders, the company launched a sale and investment solicitation process in August 2019 with the assistance of Houlihan Lokey but to date has failed to receive any indications of interest. With no liquidity to operate in the normal course, the company's senior secured lenders, Investissement Québec (IQ) and Fiera, made an application on the company's behalf for creditor protection. While under creditor protection, it is anticipated that the company's pulp mill will be indefinitely idled while the company waits for market conditions to improve. Concurrently, the company will explore other ways to return to profitability, including potentially modernizing and upgrading its current facilities with the assistance of a new investor. Deloitte is the monitor. Counsel is BCF for the company, McCarthy Tétrault for the monitor, Stikeman Elliott for IQ, Miller Thomson for Fiera, Blakes for International Forest Products and Goodmans for Computershare.
Motovan, a Montreal, Quebec-based distributor of powersports parts and accessories, obtained protection under the CCAA on December 2. An industry leader for over 30 years, the company expanded outside of Canada in 2015 through the acquisition of US-based Motorcycle Tires & Accessories LLC (MTA). The acquisition has not been successful though. The US company has generated negative EBITDA since its purchase, and the shift in management's focus from the Canadian operations to the integration of MTA negatively impacted Canadian revenues as well. Despite attempts to cut costs and enhance various aspects of its operations, the company remains in breach of its fixed charge coverage ratio with its operating lender, BMO, and it does not have the liquidity to purchase the levels of inventory necessary to support its operations. The company intends to run a sales and investment solicitation process in consultation with its stakeholders while under creditor protection. KPMG is the monitor. Counsel is BCF for the company and Norton Rose Fulbright for the monitor.
Bentley Leathers, a Montreal, Quebec-based retailer of luggage, handbags and travel accessories, filed an NOI on November 26. Attributing its financial difficulties to changing consumer behavior and the impact of digital disruptions, the company plans to close 100 of its 250 stores across Canada through the proposal proceedings. KPMG is the proposal trustee. Hilco has been retained to liquidate the closing stores. Counsel is Davies for the company, McCarthy Tétrault for the proposal trustee, Osler for Hilco and Miller Thomson for CIBC, the company's senior lender owed approximately $18.0 million.
Gestion Knightsbridge, a Montreal, Quebec-based residential real estate developer, filed an NOI on November 15, along with certain related companies. Richter is the proposal trustee.
Bouclair, a Montreal, Quebec-based retailer of home fashion and decor products, filed an NOI on November 11. Founded in 1970, the company has grown to 92 locations across Canada and employs approximately 1,150 employees. It also sells online and through a wholesale business that operates internationally. Over the past few years, the company has struggled amidst increased competition from large-scale discount US retailers such as Walmart, and online retailers such as Amazon and Wayfair. Internally, the company has also faced issues. A new warehouse management system system led to operational difficulties, and various locations significantly underperformed as a result of high rents, the increase in minimum wage, and the company's inability to recruit strong talent to manage the stores. Cost-cutting measures have not returned the company to profitability. Through the proposal proceedings, the company will look to complete a transaction that will see a significant portion of the company's assets sold to a new investor group led by the company's current president. It is anticipated that 29 stores will be closed and liquidated as part of the restructuring. Deloitte is the proposal trustee. Richter is financial advisor to National Bank, the company's senior lender owed approximately $18.8 million. EY conducted the company's pre-filing SISP. Gordon Brothers is conducting the liquidation. RC Benson is CRO. Counsel is Stikeman Elliott for the company, Osler for the proposal trustee, Fasken for Gordon Brothers, McCarthy for National Bank and Davies for certain other subordinated lenders.
Cartise, a Montreal, Quebec-based distributor of women's fashion and apparel, was placed in receivership on October 24 on application by HSBC, owed approximately $1.3 million. Operating for over 40 years, the company sold to various boutiques and other retailers across Canada and the United States. EY was appointed receiver. Davies is counsel for the applicant.