9227-1584 Quebec Inc., and 9336-9262 Quebec Inc., two related companies that are developing Square Candiac, a complex and multifaceted mixed-used construction and development project on approximately 45 acres of land on the south shore of Montreal, Quebec, obtained protection under the CCAA on November 22. While some aspects of the project have been completed, the companies have no immediate liquidity and progress on the project has stalled. A shareholder dispute led to the appointment of KPMG as administrative agent and manager of the companies. Upon its appointment, KPMG determined that the companies were insolvent and required interim financing and a stay of proceedings to effect a restructuring or a continuation of the company's operations and made an application for creditor protection on the companies' behalf. KPMG is monitor and has been granted additional powers to manage the project. Counsel is Blakes for the monitor, Dentons for one of the project's co-owners, Langlois for the other co-owner, Jolicoeur Lacasse for BDC and BLG for Gerpro Construction.
Biomod Concepts, a Sainte-Julie, Quebec-based biotechnology company, filed a proposal on October 17. Founded in 2009, the company is involved in the research and development of an innovative delivery system of active ingredients for the beauty and health industries. Facing a liquidity crisis earlier in the year, the company temporarily ceased operations and filed an NOI on April 8. A sale process yielded no bids for the business or its assets, but the company's principal shareholder has structured a transaction that will see the company's core business and technology transferred to a new entity. The company's primary secured creditors, Investissement Québec (IQ) and Quantius Innovation Income Fund LP, together owed approximately $6.3 million, have consented to the transaction, and IQ will be a preferred shareholder of the company under the new structure. The purchaser has also advanced $300.0 thousand to fund a proposal, which translates to a distribution of 22 cents on the dollar for unsecured creditors. Richter is the proposal trustee. Counsel is Gowling WLG for the company and BLG for Quantius.
CO2 Solutions (TSX-V: CST), a Quebec City, Quebec-based technology company, filed an NOI on September 16, listing approximately $12.2 million in liabilities. The company was developing the technology to capture and purify carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuel power plants, pulp and paper mills and other large emitters of carbon dioxide. The company commissioned its first commercial project at a pulp mill of Resolute Forest Products in Saint-Félicien, Québec in March 2019. The project experienced significant cost overruns though, and in April 2019 the company's board announced that it was creating a special committee to review its strategic options. The strategic review will continue while the company is under creditor protection. EY is the proposal trustee.
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.
Les Serres Lefort, a Sainte-Clotilde, Quebec-based producer of greenhouse vegetables, filed an NOI on September 6, listing $44.7 million in liabilities, including $31.7 million to Desjardins and $6.9 million to Investissement Québec. With over 20 hectares of greenhouses, the company is one of the largest producers in the province. For the last several years, the company has been focusing its efforts on producing organic vegetables but has struggled with lower-than-expected yields. Raymond Chabot is the proposal trustee.
Groupe Capitales Médias, a Quebec City, Quebec-based media company, filed an NOI on August 19, listing approximately $25.9 million in liabilities, including $8.0 million to Investissement Québec. The company was created in 2015 to purchase all the daily newspapers outside of Montreal that were at the time owned by Gesca, a Power Corporation entity. The newspapers are Le Soleil (Québec), Le Quotidien (Saguenay), Le Nouvelliste (Trois Rivières), La Tribune (Sherbrooke), La Voix de l'Est (Granby) and Le Droit (Ottawa). The sole shareholder is Martin Cauchon, a former Federal Minister of Justice. Attributing its financial difficulties to an erosion of advertising revenue to global digital players such as Facebook and Google, and to a lesser extent lower circulation, the company has been unprofitable in the past three years and has run out of cash. PwC is the proposal trustee and interim receiver and will be launching a sales process for the business in September. Counsel is Stikeman Elliott for IQ, DS Avocats for the company and McCarthy Tétrault for PwC.
Acier Orford, a Sherbrooke, Quebec-based company specializing in the manufacturing and installation of reinforcing steel and wire mesh, filed a proposal to its creditors on August 16. In March 2019, it was discovered that the company's accounts receivable included invoices for future work and extras on projects that had not yet been approved. It was also discovered that the company's inventory had been overstated. In May 2019, two of the company's senior lenders, BDC (owed $1.8 million) and TD (owed $9.8 million), issued demands for repayment. In response, the company has put together a restructuring plan that will see Groupe Dallaire, a supplier and major business partner, take over the company. The restructuring will see the company's secured lenders take a discount on their loans, and a basket payment of $200.0 thousand is being offered to the company's remaining unsecured creditors. PwC is the proposal trustee. Counsel is Serge Dubois for the company, McCarthy Tétrault for the proposal trustee, Fasken for TD, BLG for BDC and Langlois Avocats for Groupe Daillaire.
Le tour des champions de Montréal, a Montreal, Quebec-based company that was organizing an equestrian show jumping event planned for September 2019 in Montreal, Quebec, filed for bankruptcy on July 30, listing $1.6MM in liabilities, including $785.0M to Dutch-based Global Champions Tour B.V. Founded in 2005, the Longines Global Champions Tour is an annual show jumping series that brings together the top show jumpers in the world to compete in prestigious locations such as Paris, Monaco, Shanghai and Rome. Montreal was slated to be a destination for the first time in 2019, but event organizers announced on July 23 that they were cancelling the event, claiming that they could not meet on a timely basis the winning conditions to ensure the success of the event. PwC is the bankruptcy trustee.
Plasticon Canada, a Montreal, Quebec-based manufacturer of fiberglass reinforced plastic products such as storage tanks and piping systems, filed for bankruptcy on July 29, listing $5.4MM in liabilities, including $2.0MM to HSBC.The company's recent financial difficulties are largely a result of a sizeable but ultimately unprofitable contract that the company entered into in 2018. The company was receiving financial support from its parent company in Europe, but due to continued losses and weak order intake over the last months it became impossible for the parent company to continue supporting its Canadian subsidiary. EY was appointed bankruptcy trustee.
Argex Titanium (TSX:RSX), a Laval, Quebec-based company that is developing an innovative and environmentally sustainable technology for producing high-grade titanium dioxide pigment, filed an NOI on June 18, listing approximately $4.7MM in liabilities. Still in the research and development stage, the company has been unable to raise the capital necessary to complete construction of a production plant. PwC was appointed proposal trustee and will be conducting a stalking horse sales process for the company's assets. Stikeman Elliott is counsel for the company.