Wednesday, February 24, 2010

White Birch: Weaker Than I Realized

Exactly 30 days ago, I chided The New York Times for implying that White Birch Paper was on the verge of bankruptcy.

White Birch, North America's second largest newsprint manufacturer, filed for bankruptcy protection in both Canada and the United States today.

"If White Birch survived 2009's record decreases in U.S. newsprint prices, why would it go under now that things are looking up?" I wrote a month ago. The answer is apparently that White Birch took on so much water in 2009 that the recent recovery of newsprint prices was too little and too late to keep the ship afloat.

The privately held company said today it would continue operating while it seeks court approval for $140 million in debtor-in-possession financing from some of its lenders. That should provide it "more than adequate liquidity during the restructuring," which is "about fixing our capital structure," the company's news release said.

The Chapter 11 filing will fuel more gossipy articles about White Birch owner Peter Brant's messy and very public divorce from ex-supermodel Stephanie Seymour. New York magazine, for example, reported today that some of Brant's neighbors speculate that "the impish playboy polo player" is using the White Birch reorganization as "a ruse to hide divorce assets."

The 41-year-old Ms. Seymour, however, has not been hiding her assets. She recently showed just about all of them in a racy Vanity Fair spread. And how does she look after years of retirement and marital non-bliss? Let's just say she has better prospects for making money from modeling, whether avec or sans clothing, than her soon-to-be-ex does from making newsprint.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Yup, I think the bankruptcy will help him hide assets, or prove that he actually has none. White Birch recently changed banks in Canada to HSBC...So both Stadacona and Bear Island are seeking help, I just wonder if either the US or Canada will be dumb enough to give it. Even if they do, as I read the documents, I thought to understand it as they would have to basically only pay off debts and the factories would be lien for collateral..
My concern is the employees, esp the group that is slated to be laid off April 2. It's 30 or so long term employees...their jobs have been outsourced.