Bankrupt Celadon Group Inc. has received a $14.5 million bid from White Willow Holdings to acquire its North Carolina-based subsidiary Taylor Express Inc.
White Willow of Newfields, New Hampshire, is backed by Luminus Management LLC, a New York investment firm that tried to help Celadon financially.
Luminus acquired nearly 50% of Celadon in August 2019 after injecting $165 million to help the struggling carrier refinance its debt as part of a restructuring plan just months before the now defunct company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Dec. 9.
White Willow’s stalking horse bid is an initial bid that sets the floor price of the auction for the sale of Taylor Express. Celadon purchased the regional carrier for $43 million in January 2015.
The auction to sell off Taylor Express is set for Jan. 22, according to court documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.
“We hope to have a fulsome and robust auction for the sale of the Taylor Express business,” Celadon bankruptcy attorney Stuart A. Brown of DLA Piper told FreightWaves.
White Willow’s bid also includes a $375,000 break-up fee if it is outbid during the auction. It would also be reimbursed for expenses of up to $187,500, according to court filings.
Taylor Express, founded in 1987, operates about 169 power units and has 161 drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SAFER website. It is the only Celadon subsidiary still operating after its bankruptcy filing.
Celadon filed for bankruptcy three days after two former executives were indicted in an alleged complex securities and accounting fraud scheme that cost the truckload and logistics company’s shareholders more than $60 million.
Federal officials also ordered Celadon to pay shareholders $44.2 million in restitution in April 2019 after the company’s stock plummeted as a result of the company’s financial scandal.
Rumors swirled on social media that the carrier was in financial straits after FreightWaves broke the news on Dec. 6 that the company planned to file for bankruptcy. Some former employees said there was little communication among company executives, employees and drivers about what to do when deactivated fuel cards left truckers stranded thousands of miles from home.