Chicago Tribune
December 23, 2000
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Tribune Staff Writer
December 23, 2000

Troubled Outboard Marine Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday, seeking protection from creditors owed more than $768 million.

The filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago came one day after the Waukegan-based company virtually halted operations, laying off employees from Calhoun, Ga., to Traverse City, Mich. Its workforce, which numbered 7,200 at the beginning of the month, has been slashed to 3,000 employees.

The privately held maker of boat motors, whose largest investor is financier George Soros, said that it filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 in order to "sell some or all of its engine and boat operations."

The company said it has a commitment for $35 million in debtor-in-possession financing from its bank group, which includes American National Bank. The proposed financing will be submitted for court approval Tuesday.

OMC also said the loan is "expected to be sufficient to permit the company to operate while it implements its restructuring plan."

The bankruptcy filing was approved during an emergency meeting of the company's directors Friday morning during which the board also approved hiring Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, a New York-based law firm, to handle the case.

In its petition, OMC listed assets of $877.1 million and debts of $768 million. Based on the company's second-quarter financial statement, OMC lost $59.5 million on sales of $565.7 million during the first six months of the year. Its third-quarter report will be late, the company has said.

Its 20 largest unsecured creditors are owed nearly $250 million, according to the petition. The largest unsecured debt belongs to Connecticut-based State Street Bank & Trust, which holds notes totaling $160 million.

Suppliers are owed at least $11.4 million. The company also listed more than $7.4 million in economic development loans from three counties, none in Illinois.

In addition to the parent company, eight subsidiary or affiliate firms also filed for bankruptcy.

OMC is among the world's largest makers of boats and motors. Its engine brands include Evinrude and Johnson; boat lines include Chris-Craft, Four Winns and Javelin.

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