The National Geographic reports that last Friday (29 June 2018) the U.K.’s National Museum and National Museums of Northern Ireland have filed papers with the bankruptcy court pledging to raise $19.2 million to buy Premier Exhibitions and the Titanic Exhibition. Both museums would co-own the artifacts and display them in Belfast. The non-Titanic part of Premier would be acquired by another exhibition firm called Running Subway. It is also reported that the CEO of Running Subway is on the Creditors Committee and that Premier’s creditors support the bid. A rival bid by existing shareholders is offering $17.5 million at the moment. Another proposal from the equity holders calls for splitting up the artifacts and selling them at auction.
The National Maritime Museum is pledging to conserve the artifacts and has the facilities to do it. They are worried that history would end up in private hands and possibly disappear. Famed explorer and one of the two men that can claim to have found RMS Titanic (the other was Jean-Louis Michel of Ifremer also aboard Knorr at the time), Bob Ballard, is a supporter. Certainly this adds a new complexity to the upcoming hearing on July 25 where the proposals will be considered by the court. If they can raise the money, they might be able to pull it off. Then again there are a lot of competing interests and lots of jockeying going on behind the scenes. Also the lawsuit against former officers could have an impact as well though hard to say at this point.
Another fascinating wrinkle in this story. Stay tuned, this is going to be interesting.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a equity holders and lenders behind Premier Exhibitions have made a $17.5 million offer to acquire the company. The entities involved are PacBridge Capital Partners Ltd., as well as funds affiliated with Apollo Global Management LLC and Alta Fundamental Advisers LLC and other equity holders as well. The papers were filed with the court on 15 June 2018. According to the Wall Street Journal:
The prospective buyers will hold the sale process open to other qualified bidders, with Aug. 8 as the proposed bid deadline. If other interested bidders come forward, an auction would be held on Aug. 13.
This is a very interesting turn of events. Up till now all attempts to sell the artifacts have failed to materialize (including the more recent famous one by James Cameron). Whether this will bear fruit or wither on the vine remains to be seen. You can view the document here.
Source:Titanic Artifacts May Soon Join Apollo, Alta Portfolios (Wall Street Journal, 20 June 2018)
Premier Exhibitions Update-On May 25, 2018 the Bankruptcy Court granted the Equity Committee legal standing to pursue claims against current and former officers and directors of Premier Exhibitions. In short it means they have the ability to demand they pay damages to help reduce the outstanding debts of the company. Since they have retained counsel, it means they expect it will result in litigation to determine whether they are liable and if so, how much they will have to pay.
View original document here.
View materials on the case here.
New Details on Secret Navy Mission Where Titanic Was Found-Some years ago it was revealed Titanic was discovered as part of a secret Navy mission that Ballard was on. He was sent on a mission to try to find out how two U.S. nuclear submarines had sunk. Using new submersible technology Ballard found those wrecks and the approximate location of Titanic. The National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C. reveals more of the details of that secret mission. “Titanic: The Untold Story” delves into the many details that have not been publicly revealed until now.
In 1985, Ballard’s mission was to dive to depths of 9,800 feet using a towed camera system called Argo to find and document the imploded remains of the Scorpion. The objective of the mission was to locate the submarine’s nuclear reactor and nuclear weapons and to gain evidence to help determine what led to her loss. After concluding his successful investigations of the Scorpion, Ballard used the final 12 days of his expedition to discover the RMS Titanic at a depth of 12,540 feet. The following year, while the public was enthralled and distracted by the discovery of the Titanic, Ballard returned on a second classified mission to the Thresher and Scorpion.
Visitors will view artifacts, materials and photographs from the U.S. Navy Archives, and see the submersible Alvin that dived to Titanic. They will also see a variety of Titanic related artifacts from the National Archives and movie memorabilia from 20th Century Fox.
According to a recent court filing, Premier Exhibitions has settled the largest general outstanding claim. The landlord of Premier’s former New York exhibition site asserted claims of $12.6 million in unpaid rent. Under the settlement, the former landlord will get $5.5 million and the other remaining claims are disallowed.
The mediator appointed in the Premier bankruptcy proceedings has filed a report with the court. The report states in part:
Significant progress was made in reaching agreement among a number of the parties on a path for exiting the Chapter 11 cases. However, certain of the parties are continuing their dialogue in an effort to reach closure on some important remaining issues. The parties have requested the mediator to maintain the confidentiality of the nature and extent of settlement until the finalization of agreements between some or all of the parties, particularly in light of the fact that equity securities of Premier Exhibitions, Inc. are publicly traded.
Titanic Hotel’ In London With Same Dining Room As The Fateful Ship Reopens After £85M Makeover (The Sun, 16 Feb 2018) IT’S been 106 years since the Titanic sunk after striking an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. And now a hotel with strong links to the tragedy is due to reopen after a huge £85 million refurbishment – a day after the anniversary of the sinking of the ship.The former Hotel Russell in London’s Bloomsbury has been renamed Principal London, and reopens its doors on on April 16. The Grade II listed building was designed by Charles Fitzroy Doll in 1898, and the ornate dining room on board the Titanic, also designed by him, is said to be a replica of the hotel’s. Several passengers on the ship also stayed at the hotel before they set sail on the Titanic from Southampton. There’s also a bronze dragon in the hotel that’s the twin of one that went down on the ship.
Titanic Costume Exhibit Woven Into Vanderbilt Family History At Biltmore(16 Feb 2017,Citizen Times) With its new exhibition of costumes from the movie “Titanic,” Biltmore brings its costume shows back from England and Europe and lands its guests squarely in America. It’s an emotional homecoming that’s deeply personal for Biltmore’s founder. After all, George Vanderbilt had tickets on the Titanic for himself and his wife, Edith, in early 1912. “We have it in writing,” notes Biltmore associate curator Lauren Henry. “It’s not a legend, it’s a fact that Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt were booked to be on Titanic.”
Clerkenwell Titanic Victim Signed On The Day Liner Left(Islington Tribune, 16 Feb 2018) Among them was Everett Edward Elliott, who lived in Wilmington Street, Clerkenwell. At only 24 years of age, he signed on as a trimmer on April 10, 1912, on the morning the Titanic left Southampton. His body, recovered by rescue ship Mackay-Bennett, lies in Halifax municipal cemetery.
Premier Exhibitions Bankruptcy Mediator Sought(Bankrupt Company News,16 Feb 2018) Premier Exhibitions and its official committees of equity security holders and unsecured creditors filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court a joint motion for appointment of mediator and to schedule mediation. The motion explains, “The Parties believe it is in the best interest of the estate to mediate any and all matters arising out of or related to the Plan or any other restructuring or liquidating plan, any restructuring and liquidation options and alternatives, the sale of the Debtors’ assets, and any related issues that the Parties agree to mediate. The Parties believe that mediation will help avoid a prolonged confirmation fight among them.”
The Titanic Museum Hosts Secret Dinner Parties You’ve Got To See To Believe(15 Feb 2018, Delish) It’s a striking sight, for sure, but then again, just beyond it is a massive castle, an inn where it’s Christmas year-round, and a towering King Kong climbing a cartoonish copy of the Empire State Building. No, I’m not tripping. This is Pigeon Forge, TN, home to Dollywood, wax museums, and every kind of tourist attraction imaginable — but I’ve got my sights set on the unsinkable ship that, tragically, sank more than 100 years ago. There’s a secret dining room inside that serves a three-course meal worthy of the White Star Line, but only for groups of 35 or more.
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