Sbarro reportedly in bankruptcy talks

By Dow Jones Newswires-Wall Street Journal
Posted March 31 at 4:04 p.m.

Sbarro Inc., the fast-food pizza chain that dots shopping-mall food courts around the world, is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as soon as next week, said people familiar with the matter.

Sbarro is in talks with creditors for a “prearranged” restructuring deal that would pare more than half the company’s roughly $365 million in debt with a goal of a quick trip through bankruptcy court. Under the proposed plan, creditors would forgive much of their debt for equity in the restructured company, the people said.

The Chapter 11 filing could come as soon as Monday in New York, the people said. A group of hedge funds holding Sbarro’s senior debt is in discussions with the company to provide about $35 million in debtor-in-possession financing that would help the chain keep operating while under bankruptcy protection, the people said.

The people cautioned the talks remained fluid and the restructuring deal could fall apart. Should the company seek bankruptcy protection, operations would continue and employees and most vendors would be paid, the people said.

“Sbarro continues to work constructively with our key stakeholders to restructure our debt and position the company for long-term success,” the company said in a statement. “Throughout this restructuring process, the company expects to continue to operate in the normal course and without interruption.”

The company has been battered during the recession amid lower consumer confidence and several months ago warned in a regulatory filing of substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.

Sbarro, based in Melville, N.Y., employs about 5,000 people and started cutting jobs and closing stores in the wake of the global financial crisis. Its troubles stem in part from debt taken on in 2007 to back a buyout by private-equity firm MidOcean Partners. The private-equity firm’s current ownership stake is likely to be wiped out in the bankruptcy. MidOcean declined to comment.

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One comment:

  1. jack (me) April 1 at 12:48 pm

    Also, their food isn’t that good.

    Of course, since this was precipitated by a private equity firm seeking a buyout being crammed down, no one really cares. But that sounds familiar, doesn’t it Zell?