The same Toys “R” Us lenders that have been taking heat for their role in the decision to liquidate the company in March are now working on bringing the brand back to life, according to new court documents.
In a bankruptcy court filing Monday, the funds that now control Toys “R” Us said they’d canceled a plan to auction off the company’s intellectual property. Instead, they are seeking to reorganize the assets into a new company that will maintain the current license agreements and can invest in new retail operating businesses.
Maintaining the brands under a new independent U.S. business is the best option with respect to the recovery of the Toys “R” Us estate, as well as the benefit of other indirect and direct stakeholders, according to the filing. “The qualified bids were not reasonably likely to yield a superior alternative.”
The court authorized the cancellation of the auction.
A group of funds that financed Toys “R” Us lenders during the bankruptcy now control rights to the company’s name and that of Babies “R” Us, because the intellectual property served as collateral on their loans. The group includes Solus Alternative Asset Management and Angelo Gordon.
As owners of the new entity, the funds will have discretion over trademarks and receive royalty payments from their use internationally. But it may prove difficult to ramp up U.S. operations again given the fallout from the protracted bankruptcy process. Major suppliers including Mattel Inc. and Hasbro Inc. have found new distributors, and customers have largely moved on.
Toys has sold all of its stores and distribution centers, with some of the most valuable retail space going to a separate group of secured creditors. The rest of the stores were either taken over by landlords or the leases sold to other retailers.
Solus and Oaktree have been battling a group of lenders, including Cerberus Capital Management and Cyrus Capital Partners who are trying to take over Toys’ Asia operations. The two groups of lenders have fought over how much the Asia stores should pay to use the Toys “R” Us name and other intellectual property.
The case is Toys “R” Us, 18-03090, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond).
(c) 2018, Bloomberg · Eliza Ronalds-Hannon, Lauren Coleman-Lochner