The long, painful process of finding a buyer for the bankrupt J.C. Penney Co. Inc. took a big step forward Wednesday evening when the retailer signed an asset purchase agreement with two key landlords and its lenders.
Under the deal, Brookfield Asset Management Inc., Simon Property Group and a majority of the company’s debtor-in-possession and first-lien lenders will buy most of Penney’s retail and operating assets with cash and new term loan debt.
Jill Soltau, chief executive officer of Penney’s, said the deal “allows us to move forward toward the completion of our financial restructuring — and we are looking forward to operating under new ownership outside Chapter 11 in advance of the 2020 holiday season.”
Penney’s will also form a separate group of property holding companies that will hold 160 real estate assets and all of its owned distribution centers and will be owned by lenders.
The operating company will then lease space from the real estate companies, a deal that the retailer has been largely hammered out between itself, Simon and Brookfield and the lenders.
Penney’s was on many bankruptcy watch lists late last year, but a filing was still seen as only a possibility when the coronavirus pandemic hit and forced retailers to shut down. The closures drained vital cash away from the company’s operations and forced a filing in May. Penney’s went to court with $3.6 billion in debt.
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