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LandSource granted an extension

Hearing on the company’s reorganization plan scheduled, financing extended, for now

Posted: May 21, 2009 8:27 p.m.
Updated: May 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

Newhall Land and Farming Co.’s owner bought a little more time this week as the details are worked out for its bankruptcy reorganization.

During a hearing in a Delaware courtroom Wednesday, LandSource Communities Development, LLC rescheduled to June 1 a hearing on the disclosure statement for its reorganization plan, which would lay out how the company will repay its debts.

As a result, the operational financing that was set to last through the end of this month has been extended for a bit longer, Newhall Land spokeswoman Marlee Lauffer said.

LandSource filed for Chapter-11 protection on June 8, 2008, and was to start repaying its debt after May 31. At the time, the company received debtor-in-possession financing of $1.185 billion from a group of lenders led by Barclay’s Bank.

The financing included a $135 million line of credit, allowing LandSource to carry on with business during the reorganization.

Because of Wednesday’s rescheduling, Lauffer said the financing was extended while the details are worked out.

It was unclear exactly how much financing was approved.

“They were talking about the next couple of months,” Lauffer said Wednesday. “It was clear that the parties (involved) are all focused on getting resolution.”

The judge in Wednesday’s hearing said LandSource “either needs to move forward or move backward,” which bankruptcy attorney Lou Esbin said seemed to intimate the company could face the possibility of a Chapter-7 bankruptcy filing.

Under Chapter 7, he said, the court would appoint a trustee to review everything in the chapter 11 filing and liquidate LandSource, selling assets at the best price.

“We’re all looking at what’s being said,” said Esbin, a Valencia lawyer who represents three business that contracted with Newhall Land.

The LandSource saga reaches back to 2004, when Miami-based home builder Lennar Corp. and partner LNR shelled out about $1 billion to buy Newhall Land, the Santa Clarita-based developer of Valencia.

In March 2007, Barclay’s invested $1.55 billion to finance LandSource, a joint venture between Lennar, LNR Property Corp. and MW Housing Partners.

The mission of LandSource — which took ownership of Newhall Land — was to create ready-to-build home sites and commercial properties in California, Arizona, Florida, New Jersey, Nevada and Texas.

In 2007, more than 60 percent of LandSource was sold to the California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS.

By 2008, the company had run into trouble restructuring its debt and defaulted on loan payments. On June 8 of last year, LandSource filed for bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

Newhall Land officials have said the bankruptcy has not a major effect on local operations, and the company expects to emerge from the reorganization without having to sell any major assets.

The largest project remaining on Newhall Land’s plate is the development of Newhall Ranch, a Valencia-sized community of some 20,000-homes southwest of the Interstate 5/Highway 126 junction.

 

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