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 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.
Premier Exhibitions has filed monthly operating reports from 1 Dec 2016-20 Dec 2016 with the Bankruptcy Court and with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC). Due to being in bankruptcy, the usual reporting to SEC has been suspended for Forms 10-K and 10-Q. Copies of the monthly operating reports submitted to the Bankruptcy Court will be reported to the SEC in Form 8-K
There has not been a lot of news concerning Titanic or Premier Exhibitions. Here are some though that might interest those who follow those topics.
1. Titanic Hotel Entertains The Lonely On Christmas Day Hundreds of people who faced spending Christmas Day alone were treated to a festive lunch at a luxury Liverpool hotel. Over 300 people were entertained by a team of around 80 volunteers at Stanley dock yesterday for the Titanic hotel’s annual White Christmas event.
Source:Titanic hotel entertains the lonely on Christmas day 26 Dec 2016, Liverpool Echo
2. At this New Year’s Eve Celebration, You Can Walk the Titanic’s Grand Staircase Like Jack and Rose And as New Year means new life, celebrate that precious gift at the Titanic Belfast in Northern Ireland by doing the re-creation of the popular grand staircase scene in the 1997 movie. A replica of the staircase will be made available for guests. Features that will happen during the night include a New Year’s Cocktail, Light Supper, Live Band, Midnight Piper, and DJ Entertainment. Visitors will get to wear in tux and cocktail dresses. An entrance fee of $50 will be charged.
Source:At this New Year’s Eve Celebration, You Can Walk the Titanic’s Grand Staircase Like Jack and Rose Travelers Today, 24 Dec 2017
3.For this deep-sea archaeologist, finding the Titanic at the bottom of the sea was just the start It works like this: A researcher picks a project that lies along the route of E/V Nautilus, the 50-crew research ship Ballard commands. Ballard’s crew then sends a remote operated vehicle (ROV) to the research site. The ROV feeds video and data to the surface, which the crew beams to the Inner Space Center at the University of Rhode Island, which Ballard founded in 2009. Workers there post it to YouTube for public and scientific viewing. Among the images Ballard has given the world: mud-spitting volcanoes, barnacled World War II patrol boats, Byzantine amphorae (old clay jugs), and fuzz-covered iron-chewing microbes.
Source:For this deep-sea archaeologist, finding the Titanic at the bottom of the sea was just the start 23 Dec 2016, Popular Science
4. Fans of Bewitched will remember Bernard Fox as Dr Bombay while “A Night To Remember” fans will recall he was the lookout who spotted the iceberg. I recall him as the daffy Colonel Crittendon who was the bane of Colonel Hogan. Every time he showed up his naivete and incompetence would put Hogan’s plans in jeopardy. Most people remembered his face but not always his name. A shame since he was a very talented actor. He passed away recently in Van Nuys, California. He was 89. RIP
Source:Bernard Fox, Actor on Classic ’60s Sitcoms, Dies at 89 15 Dec 2016, New York Times
5. Now that Clive Palmer’s Titanic replica has effectively been shelled, the major media outlets now are reporting what readers of this blog already knew. There is a full size replica of Titanic being built in China. It will be permanently docked at theme park and will include a much criticized Titanic Sinking Simulator. You can read one such article at the New York Times.
6. It was not so long away when Belfast was devoid of any large scale Titanic exhibition or museum. That changed in 2012 when Titanic Belfast opened. And now it won the prestigious World Travel Award beating out serious competition making it the first Irish attraction to do this.
Source:Titanic Belfast named world’s best tourist attraction at Tourism Oscars 2 Dec 2016, Daily Mail
Premier Exhibitions Update
Premier Exhibitions Extension Sought Premier Exhibitions filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court a motion proposing that the period during which the Debtors have the exclusive right to file a Chapter 11 plan be further extended through and including April 10, 2017, and, if a plan is filed on or prior to April 10, 2017, the exclusive period to gain acceptance of a filed plan be extended through and including June 10, 2017.
Source:Premier Exhibitions Extension Sought 19 Dec 206, Bankrupt Company News
Premier Exhibitions has gone forward with the adversary proceeding against France to attain clear title to the French Collection. Premier tried to get the bankruptcy court to allow the sale arguing they had clear title. However the court found that under federal law, the must first conduct an adversary proceeding. As part of the filing on 17 August, Premier argues they were given clear and unambiguous title. What happens next is that France will have to respond through their American lawyers as to what their position in the matter is. The documents attached to the filing appear to support their claim.
Source: Adversary Proceeding, In Re: RMS Titanic, Inc: U.S. Bankruptcy Court,Middle District Florida, 17 Aug 2016
1) Premier Exhibitions recently sought permission to sell items from the French Titanic collection. Since these items are outside of U.S.Federal Court , it reasoned that an expedited approval by the bankruptcy court would make the sale possible. The court turned down this request noting that under bankruptcy law that Premier Exhibitions must pursue what is called an adversary proceeding. Since the items in question were awarded by French officials, they may object to these items being put up for auction if the conditions they were awarded to the company excluded their sale. Premier must now go through a process to allow possible third parties (either the French government or other parties of interest)to object and a finding be made.
Source: Premier Exhibition Sale Denied (Bankrupt Company News, 27 Jul 2016)
Document Source: ORDER ON MOTION FOR ORDER AUTHORIZING THE DEBTORS TO MARKET AND SELL CERTAIN TITANIC ARTIFACTS FREE AND CLEAR OF LIENS, CLAIMS, AND INTERESTS (In re: Premier Exhibitions, et el. U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District Florida, Jacksonville Division, 22 Jul 2016)
2. Perhaps in light of the bankruptcy filing (and increased pressure to show records to demonstrate exactly what is going on inside Premier), the company recently announced some changes. The new CEO is Jerome Henshall,the current chairman of the Audit Committee who replaces Michael Little who has been let go (or the better British word sacked). Mingcheng Tao has resigned from the Board of Directors and two new “independent” directors–Mark Bains and Guo Ding–have been appointed to the Board of Directors. Bains qualification is that he is the Chief Executive Officer of MJB Technology Solutions Ltd. Guo Ding qualifications are his “extensive experience as a political, cultural, and media correspondent for various national and international news agencies. He has appeared on television, print, and radio in Canada, China, US, and Hong Kong among many other countries. He has also authored several books published in both Chinese and English. Mr. Ding holds a Master of Arts from Rikyo University (Tokyo, Japan) and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Shanghai Normal University.” So if I get it right they have put a respected commentator of Chinese affairs on the board of directors. I get the independent part but has he ever run a business?
Source:Premier Exhibitions Inc. Announces Corporate Update (Globe Newswire Press Release,27 July 2016)