Furniture Brands bidder plans to keep most workers

By Dennis Seid

Daily Journal

New-York based KPS Capital Partners apparently has extended the lifeline Furniture Brands Interntional – and its subsidiary, Lane Furniture Industries – have been hoping to find.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware approved an interim order allowing KPS to replace Oaktree Capital Management as the debtor-in-possession lender.

KPS had offered a $280 million bid for all of Furniture Brands’ assets, including Lane.

The investment firm also said it plans to extend job offers to most of Furniture Brands’ workers.

That’s a relief to the 1,400 Lane workers who work at four facilities in Northeast Mississippi.

Oaktree had initially been tagged the darkhorse bidder by Furniture Brands in its Sept. 9 Chapter 11 filing. But its first offer of $166 million, including $140 million in financing, did not include the sale of Lane.

KPS’ offer includes financing up to $190 million.

The court set a final hearing for Oct. 11.

An auction for Furniture Brands’ assets is set for Dec. 10, with a Dec. 5 deadline for bids.

On Thursday, Furniture Brands CEO Ralph Scozzafava said KPS’ bid, “establishes a solid foundation as we move toward successful emergence from Chapter 11. The KPS bid also enhances our creditors’ return with a higher total price as well as enhanced DIP financing terms. We are also pleased that KPS has extended an offer of employment to substantially all of our current employees.”