Hines Horticulture seeks to sell assets to Black Diamond

Hines Horticulture, which filed for Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on Aug. 20, will seek to sell its assets to hedge fund Black Diamond Capital Management, the Irvine, Calif.-based company announced.

Hines is one of the largest producers of ornamental shrubs, color plants and container-grown plants in the country.

Black Diamond, which is Hines' largest unsecured creditor and the holder of a majority of its $175 million in senior subordinated notes, has agreed to serve as the “stalking-horse bidder” for Hines. A “stalking-horse” bid is the first bid on a bankrupt company’s assets, from a bidder chosen by the bankrupt company.

According to court papers, Black Diamond is in the midst of due diligence -- which needs to be completed by Sept. 19 -- and Hines has offered to pay the fund a $225,000 work fee as an incentive to finish it in short order.

Documents show that the stalking-horse bid is worth up to $58 million in cash, which would pay off Black Diamond's debts, plus $500,000 in wind-down costs.

Hines pursued several possible restructuring alternatives in the months before its bankruptcy filing, including a sale of all or pieces of the business, a new debt or equity infusion or a balance sheet restructuring.

Hines sells its goods to more than 1,180 retail and commercial customers, including Home Depot, Wal-Mart and many small local garden centers, representing a total of more than 6,670 outlets throughout the country. Hines' products are mostly sold under the "Hines Nurseries" trade name. The debtor operates seven commercial nurseries where plants are grown for sale to retailers and other businesses.

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