A few residual questions are postponing final confirmation of ’s joint plan of reorganization, one of the final steps necessary to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
In a statement, the company says Judge Stuart Bernstein, of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, indicated during a Jan. 31 hearing on confirmation that he would approve the reorganization plan for all but one of its subsidiaries – Hawker Beechcraft Corp. – and asked for a “technical modification” before he issues the final order. Hawker Beechcraft Corp. is the company’s main operating subsidiary of the parent Hawker Beechcraft Inc.
The Jan. 31 hearing follows about a week after the company’s key creditors approved the plan, which will enable Hawker Beechcraft to move forward as Beechcraft Corp. with new owners and a new board of directors. The plan calls for the company’s main debt holders to take ownership of the company. In turn, Hawker Beechcraft would move forward without the roughly $2.5 billion in debt it had been shouldering before entering bankruptcy protection on May 3.
Bill Boisture, who is currently chairman of Hawker Beechcraft Corp., will become CEO of the new company and a member of the new board. Steve Miller, the corporate turnaround specialist brought in to service as president and CEO of Hawker Beechcraft Inc., will leave his post, but remain a senior advisor to the board. Other board members include Donald Cook, Gene Davis, Ralph Heath, David Tolley, Gideon Argov and Robert (Bob) Johnson. Other company leaders are expected to remain in place.
The company had hoped to exit bankruptcy by the end of February.
The company is lining up roughly $600 million in new financing – so-called “exit financing” – that includes a $375 million term loan taken to repay most of the $400 million in debtor-in-possession financing the company received to help fund its operations while in bankruptcy. The loan would also be used to pay certain “cure” agreements and settle other claims against the company. The remaining portion of the financing would be a revolving line of credit.
The court on Jan. 30 approved the company’s request to obtain the financing.
The court also on Jan. 28 issued an opinion approving in part Hawker Beechcraft’s request to reject certain customer support and warranty agreements for the Premier and Hawker 4000 jets.
The court approved Hawker Beechcraft’s motion to reject aircraft purchase agreements and associated limited warranty programs, also with its Support Plus programs. “Hawker demonstrated that the decision to reject the limited warranty and Support Plus Programs represents the exercise of sound business judgment, flowing naturally from the decision, which no one questions, to stop manufacturing and selling the Hawker 4000 and Premier aircraft,” the court found. But it denied the motion for any other customer support agreements until the matter can be explored during a future court date.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, meanwhile, says the court on Jan. 31 approved a settlement that preserves its pension plan with the company. Hawker Beechcraft had reached a settlement with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. to retain the pension plan with IAM workers, but to drop its other two plans that covered non-unionized and customer support professionals. Under the settlement, the PBGC will take over the remaining two plans.
IAM says that the union worked with Hawker Beechcraft to negotiate a new defined contribution pension plan while guaranteeing the existing plans.
“Preventing the termination of a defined benefit pension for thousands of active and retired workers at a bankrupt company is a remarkable, but all too infrequent outcome,” says IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “It is a credit to both sides of the bargaining table that workers’ interests at Hawker were given the respect they deserve.”