As a bankruptcy lawyer with offices in Bloomington and Columbus, Indiana, as well as in Anderson and Indianapolis, I’m always interested in news from the different counties in our state. Two newspaper items about the bankruptcy process caught my eye the other day. The first had to do with Casino Aztar in Evansville, and I was interested in that news because I actually have a couple of clients from Bloomington who commute to Evansville to work in the casino. The second item was about Steve and Barry’s, whose discount clothing stores are in two of our Indianapolis malls.
So that you’ll better understand my comments about these two companies, in an earlier bankruptcy blog, ATA Business Bankruptcy Story Demonstrates The Process, I emphasized that bankruptcy is not an event that happens one day and then is over. Instead, whether we’re talking about a business bankruptcy or a personal bankruptcy, bankruptcy is a system that goes to work to restore financial stability to a company’s or an individual’s situation. The process goes through different stages, and could last months or, in rare cases, years.
Going back a bit, the original Chapter 11 plan presented to the bankruptcy court by the owner of Casino Aztar (a plan approved by the court) involved selling the casino to a Nevada company called Eldorado Resorts. (As I had explained in previous blogs, a business bankruptcy filing often buys time to seek a buyer for a company that is in financial trouble.) But now, the owners have come back to the court with what it thinks is a better plan that would raise more money to pay Aztar’s creditors. Instead of selling Aztar to Eldorado, the owners are now petitioning the bankruptcy court to put the casino up for auction.
Meanwhile, the bankruptcy court approved the acquisition of Steve and Barry’s by a company named BHY Holdings for a price of $163 million. Under the arrangement, the new owners will keep the majority of Steve and Barry’s 276 stores open, eight of which are here in Indiana. In this case, a sale turned out to be the best strategy.
As a consumer bankruptcy specialist in Indiana for almost twenty-five years, most of my work is with individuals, along with some small business bankruptcies, rather than with big companies like Steve and Barry’s or Casino Aztar. But I think it’s important for people to understand how the bankruptcy system works as a process rather than a one-time event. My work involves helping folks navigate the steps of this process so that they can emerge from bankruptcy and begin on the “sequel” to the story, the part where they begin to rebuild their financial lives.