Yellow Corp. is getting closer to selling off its terminals, vehicle fleet and other real estate assets.
In a Friday hearing in a Delaware bankruptcy court, Judge Craig Goldblatt gave the official okay for the trucking company to move forward with upcoming bankruptcy auctions as it liquidates. The judge also approved the $142 million debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing Yellow secured from hedge funds Citadel and MFN Partners, now its largest shareholder. That figure could rise to as much as $212 million when including a potential delayed draw of up to $70 million.
The lifeline will be used to help the bankrupt trucking company pay creditors and wind down after it shuttered operations July 30 because customers gave rivals their business amid the threat of a strike by 22,000 Teamsters-represented workers.
Goldblatt is scheduled to rule on Friday on the lead stalking horse bidder for Yellow’s real estate portfolio. The $1.525 billion offer from less-than-truckload (LTL) competitor Estes Express Lines for Yellow’s nearly 170 terminals remains the bid to beat.
The Richmond, Va.-based Estes was Yellow’s original preferred stalking horse bidder after it placed a $1.3 billion bid last month. But Thomasville, N.C.-based rival Old Dominion upped the ante with a $1.5 billion offer.
Estes came back with the larger proposal, and also said it would provide Yellow with 30 days of free storage for its trucks and trailers, a deal the company values at more than $10 million, according to court documents.
Parties still have until Friday to place a stalking horse bid, which will set the floor price for the bankruptcy auction, where Yellow could accept any higher offers.
Jonathan Phares, assistant professor of supply chain management at Iowa State University, said he’s not sure if many additional bids will come in before the stalking horse bid winner is announced.
The initial $1.3 billion Estes bid would save it “a fair bit on the equipment and terminals,” Phares told Sourcing Journal. “At $1.525, the savings begin to dwindle as the bids climb toward market value. While Old Dominion may make another bid to try and top Estes, I doubt any other LTL carriers will enter the competition.”
Yellow attorney Allyson Smith said during Friday’s hearing that initial indications of interest for some of Yellow’s service centers have been as high as two to 11 times appraised value. Bids must be submitted by Nov. 9. If necessary, an auction for the terminals is set for Nov. 28.
Smith also referred to “hundreds of interested parties” that have signed confidentiality agreements to access the online database containing information on Yellow’s real estate portfolio. The court filing said 307 parties had gained access to the database, with 540 potential buyers contacting the company in recent weeks asking about its rolling stock and property assets.
She also noted “significant interest” in the rolling stock Yellow owns, including roughly 11,700 tractors and 35,000 trailers. Yellow has set an Oct. 13 bid deadline for those assets, and an Oct. 18 auction.
Yellow isn’t selling all of its real estate, opting to walk away from more than three dozen leased properties in the U.S. and Canada. On Thursday, Goldblatt approved Yellow’s rejection of 37 leased properties, including its corporate headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. and regional headquarters in Overland Park, Kan.
Some leased properties are truck terminals in major markets, including Seattle; Atlanta; Richmond, Va.; and Toledo, Ohio.
The offloading of Yellow’s assets comes after a bankruptcy which saw 30,000 employees lose their jobs, including the 22,000 Teamsters workers. But the bankruptcy came after Yellow paid $4.6 million to eight current and two former executives in July, the trucking firm stated in recent court filings.
The figure is higher than it would have been had Yellow managed to avoid a sudden bankruptcy filing, according to Fortune. Companies often issue these payments to incentivize key executives to stay aboard during a bankruptcy or restructuring.
In a statement, Sean O’Brien, general president of the Teamsters, said the bonuses should be addressed by Congressional reforms. On Twitter, O’Brien criticized Yellow for making the payments while it skipped a $50 million payment for employee healthcare and pension benefits. The failed payment spurred the Teamsters to threaten going on strike, which was averted when the trucking company agreed to pay the benefits.
Yellow blamed its collapse on the dispute with Teamsters, claiming that the union prevented it from implementing its One Yellow turnaround plan, which includes consolidating its four LTL operating companies and closing excess terminals.