The saga of the Premier Exhibitions bankruptcy has taken another turn. An auction that was set for February 6 has been canceled. According to the press release, the reason given is to discuss further with stakeholders the best path forward. However a new twist has emerged that prompted to cancel.The National Maritime Museum of Greenwich has filed a motion to move the action to the federal court in Virginia where the salvage award was made. Another group called the Ad Hoc Equity group is also filed a motion objecting to the sale.
Until the motions are heard and decided upon, Premier decided to withdraw the sale. The first motion by the National Maritime Museum is the most serious of them. They are trying to argue that due to the special and unique nature of Premier holding Titanic artifacts in which a salvage award was made by another federal court that it ought to have primary jurisdiction in this case. The objection to that is that court is not bankruptcy and has no business handling such matters. Bankruptcy is very different from salvage with its own laws and procedures. This motion will chew up lots of time and depending on how the decision comes down, drag this into the appeals court.
The other possibility is that those in charge will throw up their hands, declare they cannot reorganize under these circumstances, and go into Chapter 7. Which means complete liquidation of the company and selling all assets to pay creditors and stakeholders.
Not a Happy Christmas for Premier shareholders hoping for some return on equity in the near future.
According to a press release issued by Premier, the company has proposed February 6, 2018 as the auction date of company assets. This sale, subject to court approval, will allow bidders to purchase the company or its assets. Included in this auction are Titanic artifacts. However the company maintains the right to designate a stalking horse bidder before the auction deadline.
The deadline for submitting bids to be a stalking horse bidder for the acquisition of the company’s operating businesses and its assets has been extended to October 9, 2017. According to the press release:
Premier expects to conclude the process by October 9, 2017. In the event that an auction is to be conducted, it is expected that such auction will occur by December 12, 2017, at which time other potential bidders will have the opportunity to bid against the stalking horse bidder.
Among other things, bidders are competing to own the most valuable, unique collection of Titanic assets ever offered for sale. The collection includes approximately 5,500 individual pieces that have been recovered from the wreck site over the course of seven deep sea dives; ownership of video footage, imagery, and other intellectual and personal property; and the opportunity to be designated “salvor-in-possession,” permitting the owner exclusive salvage rights to the wreck and wreck site. The portfolio of artifacts, with enhancements recognizing the value of the intellectual property, was appraised at $218MM in 2014. The auction of the collection is subject to approval of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division, and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida (Jacksonville Division). For more information, please visit www.titanicartifacts.com.
1. Belfast’s Titanic Hotel Finally Opens After Birthplace Of Tragic Cruise Liner Is Transformed With £28MILLION Make-Over (Daily Mail, 11 Sep 2017) Chairman of Harcourt Developments, Mr Pat Doherty – who managed the project – welcomed family, friends, tourists and locals into the brand new site, which sat empty for thirty years. The dilapidated property, which is located on Belfast’s Queen’s Road, has been revived thanks in part to a £5million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Inside the new Titanic, however, guests will be housed in 120 rooms over four storeys, each with a classic, maritime-chic design. Thankfully, however, many of the original architectural features have been retained. The famous Drawing Rooms, where draftsmen sketched their designs for the ill-fated liner, have been sympathetically transformed into a function room and a bar. One even features the same tiles that lined the Titanic’s swimming pool.
2. Titanic Voyage To Be Recreated On Sydney Harbour (Guardian News, 21 Aug 2017) Beyond Cinema will take up to 1000 passengers on a sightseeing cruise boat for a screening of James Cameron’s hit movie, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet from 1997. After buying tickets to first-, second- or third-class decks, they will dress up as if it’s 1912 and eat meals appropriate to their class, with actors on board helping simulate the experience of being on the Titanic. “We’re going to fully theme the boat itself and recreate the atmosphere of the early 1900s,” the company’s creative director, Aden Levin, says. “Everyone will be given instructions on what clothing to wear. “They’ll also be given different characters that they will be on the boat.”
2.On 17 Aug 2017, a default entry of judgment was entered regarding the French Titanic Artifacts. Premier was required to file adverse legal action to compel France to declare whether they claimed ownership of these artifacts. They did not respond so the court has entered a default judgment in favor of Premier Exhibitions. This will allow these artifacts to be put up for auction. Source:Andrew Shapiro,Equity Security Holders of Premier Exhibitions, Inc
The bankruptcy proceedings of Premier Exhibitions have been lumbering on for a while with not much to report on. But on 17 August a major decision was made. Premier decided to put up for sale a certain set of artifacts known collectively as the French Artifacts. These artifacts were brought up as part of a joint project but were excluded from the salvage award currently in place as they were property of the French government.
Premier filed to put these up for sale. Papers were served on French Embassy notifying them of the claim and their right to challenge it in court. Well they did not do so. As a result a default judgment has been entered against them with a finding that France had no interest in the French Artifacts. After some formal paperwork is done, the next step will be to come up with a satisfactory method of auctioning them off so that debts can be retired and creditors paid.
The artifacts covered under the current salvage award are unaffected by this decision.
Premier Exhibitions has confirmed it has received multiple letters of intent to be a stalking horse bidder for its assets which include the Titanic artifact collection. Both the company and the equity security holders committee will assess the bidders qualifications and announce on 25 September 2017 who the stalking horse bidder will be. An auction, if needed, will occur by 30 November 2017 and other bidders will be able to bid at that time.
Source: Premier Exhibitions Titanic Artifact Bidders Confirmed (bankruptcompanynews,26 Jul 2017)
August is nearly here and summer is in full bloom. Titanic news has been quiet. There are still news stories out there about the Premiere Exhibitions bankruptcy and the possible sale of Titanic artifacts. Analysts hope Premier is able to get out of the hole it is in. Ditto for the shareholders who are hoping that at long last perhaps the company will get back on track.
Of course the debate raging in some circles is over Titanic artifacts. Premier has a difficult time trying to sell them before as the salvage award restricts their sale and it comes with restrictions for the buyer. James Cameron is diving into the fray trying to raise money to buy them. The best outcome might be for some government or government backed entity to buy them. The huge price tag keeps most museums and institutions from really pursuing the matter. Of course all bets would be off should Premier decide to liquidate rather than reorganize. And no one is talking about that right now.
The International Ice Patrol has for a long time depended upon planes to spot and help track icebergs. Their work is very important for everyone who transits across the North Atlantic. And thanks to their work, the threat of icebergs to ships has been greatly reduced. Now they are making changes. Instead of flying planes as much, the Ice Patrol is implementing the use of satellite technology to detect and monitor icebergs. The problem though is that satellite images only detect icebergs only 50% of the time compared to using planes. For the moment a combination of planes and satellite images are going to be used to monitor icebergs. (Keeping an Eye on What the Arctic Throws Down Iceberg Alley,newsdeeply.com,21 July 2017)
Molly Brown was one of the people that became well known after Titanic sank. Her 150th birthday was recently celebrated at her home in Denver, Colorado. As befitting her style, it was celebrated as a block party. Food, entertainment and tours of her home (now a museum) were done. She was quite a gal.
Plaque To Commemorate Hatfield Man Who Died On Titanic(Welwyn Hatfield Times,15 Jul 2017) The council’s Blue Plaque Scheme aims to promote the recognition and awareness of people, places and events which have been of lasting significance to Hatfield. Town council leader Lenny Brandon said: “I’m extremely pleased to introduce this exciting new initiative to Hatfield.” It is hoped that Joseph’s official plaque will be unveiled in the town later this year.Further details about the scheme can be found on the council’s website www.hatfield-herts.gov.uk
£28 Million Titanic Hotel Unveiled(Irish Times,5 Jul 2017) Harcourt Developments is behind the 119-bedroom Titanic Hotel Belfast in the former Harland & Wolff drawing offices, where the plans for the Titanic itself were dreamt up in the 1890s. It will be the eighth hotel in the multi-million pound company’s portfolio, sitting alongside a collection of properties in locations from Liverpool to the Caribbean. Harcourt – who’ve been front and centre of the Titanic Quarter regeneration over the last decade – flung open the showpiece hotel’s doors to the media ahead of letting its first overnight visitors (rooms start at £160 a night) get their heads down from September 10.
Former Titanic Drawing Rooms Restored(BBC News, 4 Jul 2017) A £5m renovation project has restored the historic drawing offices at Belfast shipyard where plans for the Titanic were made. The two arched rooms were at the heart of the old Harland and Wolff headquarters building.
Thousands Of Titanic Artefacts To Be Sold After Owner Goes Bankrupt (antiquestradegazette.com,4 Jul 2017) Experts predict it is unlikely the court will allow a public auction and instead the items will have to be sold to an institution. However, if they were to come to auction it is likely UK auction firm Henry Aldridge & Son in Devizes, which holds regular Titanic memorabilia auctions, would be among the auctioneers considered for the job.
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition Opens at the Prestigious Guangdong Museum in Guangzhou, China (Premier Exhibitions, 3 Jul 2017)) Premier Exhibitions, Inc. (OTCQB:PRXIQ), announced today the opening of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the Guangdong Museum in Guangzhou, China. This remarkable 20,000 square foot exhibition, is one of the largest in the Company’s history, with more than 300 artifacts and brand-new room re-creations. This is the first time the Company has presented Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition in a Tier 1 museum in China. The exhibition opening was made possible through the generous support, assistance and presence of the Minister of State Administration of Cultural Heritage and representatives of the Department of Culture of Guangdong Province.
The story thus far: Premier Exhibitions, which owns RMS Titanic Inc, has filed for bankruptcy. A decision has been reached to sell the Titanic collection (the artifacts and intellectual property). One problem is the Titanic salvage award limits how those artifacts can be sold: as one collection. Past attempts to sell have failed because the price is too high. And now our story resumes….
Could a famous Hollywood director put together the money needed to buy the collection? The U.K. Daily Mail reports that James Cameron has begun a “secret” rescue mission to bring the Titanic artifacts to the U.K. He has apparently teamed up with Robert Ballard, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and the Royal Geographical Society to accomplish this. The figure being reported is £165 million.
Details of this “secret” mission were revealed at a court hearing last week by Ballard. Of course nothing is final and it is the very early stages. I doubt they will be the only party that will be interested. The Chinese would like to add it to their theme park and have money to spend as well. And there are investors in Dubai who also would not mind having the Titanic collection there as well that will draw in tourists. ave Vermillion, spokesman for RMS Titanic Inc, confirmed they have interest from all over the world.
Hopefully this time they will actually sell it to someone who will properly conserve it. The bidding war, if that is what it becomes, ought to be fascinating.
Summer tends to be a slow for Titanic news so I generally do not post as often as many people are away on summer break. Here is some recent Titanic news of interest to Titanic enthusiasts and others.
1. Lego model of Titanic built with 125,000 pieces on display in Cavendish (CBC News, 24 June 2017)
There have been some fantastic recreations of Titanic using Lego. And here is one that most definitely took a lot of work and love to do. “The Lego Titanic model is made up of about 125,000 pieces and measures about nine metres long, said the Maritime Fun Group’s Jessica Caseley. t’s quite large. So, when you go up to it, it just looks like a large boat. You start to notice all of the details. You could probably spend 10 to 20 minutes just examining the structure itself. Yeah, it’s really neat,” she said.
2. Margaret Brown led a remarkable life even apart from surviving the Titanic (A.V.Club, 18 June 2017) Mrs. Brown dove into high society, becoming a devotee of the arts and learning four languages. She raised funds for a cathedral in Denver, and helped establish the country’s first juvenile court. Two years after the Titanic, Brown ran for the U.S. Senate, but cut her campaign short to volunteer to help France recover from the first World War. She used her Titanic fame to work for workers’ rights, women’s rights, education, and historic preservation, before dying of a brain tumor at age 65.
3. Masabumi Hosono survived the Titanic, but not the public’s scorn (A.V. Club, 25 June 2017) Initially, Hosono was celebrated alongside other survivors. An American newspaper ran a story on the “Lucky Japanese Boy.” (As Hosono was 41, “Boy” seems to be racism typical of the era.) But he was soon condemned both in America and at home for not honoring the ethos of “women and children first.” A best-selling book about Titanic survivors described him as a “stowaway” on the lifeboat, and the seaman in charge of the lifeboat told the U.S. Senate he must have disguised himself as a woman to sneak on board. Neither account was true—by his own account, Hosono saw other lifeboats depart and mentally prepared himself for death. But as lifeboat 10 was loading up, someone shouted “room for two more!” and Hosono followed another man on board. It’s hard to imagine anyone else would have acted differently in the same situation.
4. Premier Exhibitions Bankruptcy Update
Premier filed its monthly operating report for May 2017. According to the filing “The Debtors have entered a Plan Support Agreement under which they have agreed to propose a Chapter 11 reorganization plan which the Equity Committee supports. Under the Plan Support Agreement, the Debtors and the Equity Committee are engaged in a marketing process to sell all of the Debtors’ assets, including the entire Titanic Artifacts Collection either as assets of the estate or through the sale of RMS Titanic Inc., the company that holds the Titanic Artifacts. The remaining Debtors and their assets likewise would be sold. The deadline for receipt of initial letters of intent is currently scheduled for July 21, 2017.” Further information can be found at the following links:
June 23, 2017
Premier Exhibitions 8-K: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/796764/000117184317003792/f8k_062317.htm