Bouchard Transportation OK’d to solicit plan votes as ‘robust’ buyer interest flows in

A plaque is displayed at the entrance to the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, New York, United States, January 9, 2020. REUTERS / Brendan McDermid – RC2OCE9LEZGO

  • Submissions expected in July
  • Junior creditors could apply to submit a concurrent bankruptcy plan

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(Reuters) – Oil barge company Bouchard Transportation Co Inc has gained approval to seek creditors’ votes on its proposed reorganization plan as it continues efforts to sell its bankrupt assets.

U.S. Chief Bankruptcy Judge David Jones in Houston approved the disclosure documents for the plan in a virtual hearing Wednesday. Bouchard, represented by Kirkland & Ellis, filed for Chapter 11 protection in September with $ 230 million in debt as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing problems at the business that arose after the explosion of a barge in 2017.

Bouchard is now pursuing a two-way route out of bankruptcy, considering both put and restructuring options. The company has until July 7 to select a primary offering for its assets. Other interested buyers will then have until July 16 to submit competing offers. If additional bids are made, an auction will be held on July 19 and a sale hearing will be held on July 23.

Christine Okike of Kirkland told Jones during Wednesday’s hearing that the company had received “a strong interest” in its assets from “a number of parties”.

Jones also agreed to extend Bouchard’s exclusive period to file a bankruptcy plan until the date of the sale hearing. At that time, the official Unsecured Creditors Committee, represented by Ropes & Gray, may seek to end the period of exclusivity to pursue a competing proposal. The committee said in court documents that it did not yet agree with the current plan.

Bouchard began to lose customers in the years following a barge explosion, which occurred off Port Aransas, Texas, and killed two crew members. The pandemic has worsened the situation by decreasing the demand for services. Bouchard filed for bankruptcy to block several foreclosure sales of his ships in Louisiana, Florida, Texas and New York.

The case is In re Bouchard Transportation Co Inc, US Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Texas, No. 20-34682.

For Bouchard: Christine Okike, Ryan Bennett, Whitney Fogelberg from Kirkland & Ellis; and Matthew Cavenaugh and Genevieve Graham of Jackson Walker

For the committee: Gregg Galardi, Matthew Roose and Daniel Egan of Ropes & Gray

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Bouchard Transportation obtains access to bankruptcy loan and aims to re-establish relations with Coast Guard

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