A possible buyer of Junction City, Ore.-based Country Coach LLC emerged Thursday (Feb. 12) in U.S. Bankruptcy Court as creditors argued over whether one of the RV makers’ biggest creditors, Wells Fargo, should be permitted to immediately seize and liquidate the company’s assets.
The Register-Guard, Eugene, reported that the start of Thursday’s hearing was delayed for 45 minutes as lawyers for Wells Fargo and for Riley Investment Management, the company’s majority owner, met together and separately in an effort to strike some sort of deal, but no agreement was forthcoming.
In court, Wells Fargo attorney Wilson Muhlheim told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Albert Radcliffe that the bank no longer trusted Country Coach and that it wants to seize the company’s assets to make good on a loan balance of $8.5 million.
Carter Mann, attorney for Riley Investment Management, told the judge that if he granted Wells Fargo’s motion, “There will be no more Country Coach,” and after the bank liquidated the company’s assets, nothing would be left for the company’s other creditors. Country Coach owes Riley Investment Management about $15 million, he said.
Mann said a Los Angeles private equity firm called Balmoral Advisors has expressed serious interest in buying Country Coach and continuing to operate it.
“Country Coach should have an opportunity to have that happen,” he said, instead of letting Wells Fargo “drive a stake through its heart on two days notice.”
The Register-Guard reported that Radcliffe also heard from lawyers for Prevost, a Canadian company that says Country Coach is in possession of four bus shells worth about $2 million that Prevost holds the title to; and from Giant RV of Montclair, Calif., the nation’s largest RV dealer.
The judge also heard from Rob Dickman, owner of Les Schwab Tire in Junction, who said he is owed about $195,000 by Country Coach. He urged the judge to give Country Coach a chance to continue operations, and took a shot at Wells Fargo.
“Quite honestly, I’m insulted by Wells Fargo,” he said. “They got $25 billion of our money (from the federal bailout) and now they want more by liquidating Country Coach and taking it all back to Atlanta and leaving us to pick up the pieces.”
Wells Fargo’s commercial banking division is based in Atlanta.