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March 01, 2006  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Blue Bird restructures in bankruptcy court


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FORT VALLEY, Ga. — Blue Bird Corp. filed a prepackaged restructuring plan in late January with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Nevada.

The plan was confirmed by the court and became effective within a few days.

The bus and motor home manufacturer said that completion of the in-court restructuring process would allow its management team and employees to focus on strengthening business operations, improving financial performance and delivering top product performance and innovation.

“We are going to take full advantage of the opportunities this restructuring plan provides Blue Bird,” said Jeff Bust, president and CEO. “With the new financing this plan provides, the hard work of our employees and the ongoing commitment of our suppliers and distributors, Blue Bird will remain one of the world’s leading school bus and motor home manufacturers for many decades to come.”

The approved restructuring plan, which was supported by 93 percent of the company’s lenders, increased Blue Bird’s borrowing availability by $52.5 million through a new and expanded loan agreement and included a debt-for-equity conversion plan that the company said would strengthen its balance sheet. The plan also provides for a full recovery to the company’s general unsecured creditors.

“We are very grateful for the flexibility and cooperation shown by our senior lenders over the past few months,” Bust said. “Their support is a vote of confidence in our business model, our superior products, our excellent management team and our bright prospects.”

The company stressed that the financial restructuring process would not interrupt normal business operations, adding that Blue Bird remains committed to meeting its delivery schedules and maintaining the highest standards of quality and service.

The law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Kroll Zolfo Cooper (KZC) was chosen to advise Blue Bird on its restructuring. Three members of the KZC team also were appointed to serve on Blue Bird’s board of directors: Stephen Cooper, who will serve as chairman of the board; Leonard LoBiondo; and Robert Bingham.

In other news, Volvo wrote down its holding in Blue Bird by $71 million. The writedown has no cash effect. Volvo has owned 42.5 percent of Peach County Holdings, the company that owns Blue Bird, since 2004. Other owners of the company include a consortium of banks, a British pension fund and Blue Bird management.


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