Bankruptcy auction canceled as White Willow’s $14.5 million bid for Taylor Express approved

Bankrupt Celadon Group Inc. canceled its Jan. 22 asset auction of Taylor Express after approving White Willow Holding’s $14.5 million bid, according to court documents filed Monday.

Taylor Express of Hope Mills, North Carolina, is the only Celadon subsidiary still operating after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on Dec. 9.

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 after injecting $165 million to help the struggling carrier refinance its debt as part of a restructuring plan just months before the company abruptly shuttered operations.

Celadon must now file and submit a “proposed form of order” approving the sale of the Taylor assets to White Willow, along with a copy of the final purchase agreement, to be considered at the sale hearing, according to court documents.

Celadon bankruptcy attorney Stuart A. Brown of DLA Piper did not return FreightWaves’ email and telephone calls requesting a comment about the Taylor Express sale.

Celadon purchased the regional carrier for $43 million in January 2015.

Taylor Express, founded in 1987, operates about 169 power units and has 161 drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration SAFER website. 

Former employees and current drivers told FreightWaves that the number of trucks and drivers listed on its October filing is too high and claim there are only around 85 to 90 drivers at Taylor Express.

“We have also lost a lot of our top accounts because customers are afraid we are going to fold after Taylor is sold,” one driver told FreightWaves. “We have received no communication from anyone about the sale of the company.”

The auction to sell off Celadon’s tractors and trailers was also canceled after receiving no qualified offers.

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.

This is a developing story.

Read more articles by FreightWaves’ Clarissa Hawes