After a years long struggle to even out its balance sheets, legendary gunmaker Colt Defense LLC announced late on June 14 it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and will sell off its assets.
The announcement came as the final deadline passed for Colt’s lenders to accept a major cut in their payback after the company failed to make its last two interest payments on loans to keep the West Hartford, Connecticut-based gunmaker afloat. Colt was asking bond holders to take a 70 percent loss on its loans or face bankruptcy proceedings.
By the end of the June 15 deadline, only a handful of its bondholders had accepted Colt’s deal.
“While entering Chapter 11 protection in the absence of a consensual agreement with our noteholders was not our preference and we do not take it lightly, we are confident it is the best path going forward and will enable us to continue to gain traction on a challenging but achievable turnaround in our business performance and competitive positioning in the international, U.S. government and consumer marketplaces,” said Colt’s Chief Restructuring Officer Keith Maib. “The plan we are announcing and have filed today will allow Colt to restructure its balance sheet while meeting all of its obligations to customers, vendors, suppliers and employees and providing for maximum continuity in the Company’s current and future business operations.”
Colt said investment management firm Sciens Captital Management will act as a “stalking horse” bidder that plans to buy most of Colt Defense and make good on its liabilities and vendor agreements.
The June 15 bankruptcy announcement is the culmination in a month’s long effort by the nearly 200 year-old company to turn its business around and climb out of a crushing debt structure.
In May, the company told investors that it would need to restructure its $250 million bond debt with a new issue of bonds at a higher interest rate but longer loan term at 30 percent of their original value in order to stay in business. If the bondholders didn’t agree to that plan, the company had offered a so-called “pre-packaged” bankruptcy agreement that would avoid a lengthy court fight and allow Colt to restructure quickly.
After extending the deadline several weeks, Colt could only muster less than 10 percent of its investors to take the deal.
The bankruptcy announcement will help the legendary company stay in business, officials said.
“Colt remains open for business and our team will continue to be sharply focused on delivering for our customers and being a good commercial partner to our vendors and suppliers,” Maib said. “We look forward to successfully executing on this plan, which provides a sound path of stewardship for an iconic American brand and the key stakeholders we serve.”