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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

USA : APPCO C-store Network Sales Could be Close


Andy Weber of NRC Realty Advisors, the man charged with selling the bankrupt Appco convenience store chain is positive about an agreement between the major parties involved.

Andy Weber, whom bankruptcy Judge Marsha Parsons appointed as Appco's "chief restructuring officer" on April 14, said that despite the challenges of a bankruptcy now four months old, Appco has several good things going for it.

Weber said if a "global agreement" that satisfies Appco's lender, its landlords and its unsecured creditors is approved this week, the pieces should be in place to get some good bids from parties that have been sniffing around since it became clear in April the 55-store chain would be sold. That agreement will allow Appco to shed unwanted leases, including some for lower- performing stores that won't make the cut in the sale and will likely close.

Weber has also had to try to mend fences with suppliers, many of whom got burned during Titan Global Holdings' 18-month ownership tenure, and he said "we have had to convince our customers that Appco can have the products and services they need." Those pieces required the "secured creditor," Greystone Business Credit, being willing to provide a "debtor in possession" financing even though Appco owes it more than $11 million.

That value of the business has retained itself to what Weber considers a surprising degree, despite the troubles that began around December for Appco and resulted in poorly stocked stores, gas outages, and unpaid bills to unsecured creditors - everyone from large gas suppliers to snack suppliers - that total more than $7 million. Titan paid longtime Appco owner Jim MacLean and partners $30 million for Appco in September 2007, and Weber suggested the company's good name pre-Titan is still worth something.

He called Appco "fortunate" to have held on to as many store managers as it has during the its challenges, and said the company's regional supervisors and office group are equally valuable. Because of Appco's struggles, though, some of the store personnel won't make the cut, and the likelihood of a buyer retaining office staff is uncertain. Several of the 55 stores already have been closed, most in Virginia and Kentucky. If Judge Parsons approves the global settlement this week, Weber said his company will try to move into the final stages of marketing and sale.

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