United Furnishings lenders reveal chaos over 2,700 layoffs


United Furnishings Industries’ collectors argued in court docket that they had been blindsided by the corporate’s pre-Thanksgiving transfer; abruptly fired 2,700 of its workers in the course of the night time — revealing for the primary time the unusual sequence of occasions that led to the shock massacre.

November 21 layoffs during which employees discovered they had been shedding their jobs due to the late night time explosion The discharge of emails and textual content messages got here hours after the Mississippi-based firm allegedly requested “instantly important capital” from its lender Wells Fargo, signaling that it couldn’t proceed working with out money, claims have been made. collectors in a court docket submitting late final week. .

Wells Fargo, together with two different collectors, is asking a U.S. chapter choose to drive United Furnishings into Chapter 7 liquidation, which has been denied “on such brief discover” and “with out extra info” the financial institution would require, equivalent to restructuring. the funds. and approval from its inside credit score committee, in line with court docket paperwork.

A photo of the phone showing the termination notice from UFI.
Wells Fargo and two different collectors are asking a U.S. chapter choose to drive United Furnishings into Chapter 7 liquidation.

Wells Fargo claims in a court docket submitting that it now owes greater than $99 million. It didn’t specify the quantity requested, however stated it was “in extra” of what its credit score facility, permitted final summer season for $130 million secured by the corporate’s belongings, permits.

Later that day, UFI administration allegedly advised Wells Fargo that it could “instantly stop operations and instantly lay off all of its workers,” in line with the Dec. 31 court docket submitting. Within the course of, the corporate allegedly “fully deserted” all of its properties, leaving all 15 of its amenities unsecured and with out insurance coverage protection after Nov. 30, in line with the submitting.

Some landlords have locked their amenities and barred anybody from getting into, in line with court docket paperwork.

When Wells Fargo reached out to UFI, it was advised that the entire firm’s workers had resigned apart from the CEO and CFO. A day later, additionally they resigned, in line with the appliance.

A worker at the UFI factory makes furniture.
The layoffs come hours after the corporate allegedly requested “instantly important capital” from Wells Fargo.
United Furnishings Business

In an effort to comprise the chaos, Wells Fargo stated it had employed a disaster administration agency referred to as Focus Administration Group to safe UFI’s belongings and start an orderly liquidation. Nevertheless, the method has change into “overwhelming” as different collectors have stepped in to file claims, in line with court docket paperwork.

“Wells Fargo has no responsibility to such collectors and has been required to behave on an advert hoc foundation with out the advantage of the institutional data of two,700 former UFI workers to resolve these claims,” ​​the financial institution complained.

As for the weekend court docket submitting, collectors stated UFI appeared to have “no workers, administration or officers.” Solely the board led by UFI proprietor and chairman David Belford, which owns 90% of the corporate, stays.

David Belford
David Belford is the chairman and largest shareholder of the furnishings manufacturing firm.
Flying Horse Farm

Belford, A rich Ohio businessman WHO remained silent for 3 weeks after cuts lastly addressed the catastrophe In an interview with the Columbus newspaper, he referred to as himself a “passive investor” and added that “his understanding of the corporate’s funds was restricted.”

“Solely very just lately I discovered how horrible the state of affairs is, how restricted the corporate’s alternatives are.” he advised Columbus Enterprise First on December 12. “Sadly, the fact of UFI’s circumstances was delivered to the board’s consideration too late.”

Former UFI chairman and board member Larry George, who can be named as a board member within the Dec. 31 submitting, disputed the submitting’s declare that he was a 5% shareholder, in addition to Belford’s description of him as a “passive investor.” »

SMS messages received by UFI employees informing them of their layoffs.
UFI workers had been notified in a single day by way of textual content and electronic mail that they had been being fired.

Belford “was all the time fairly conscious of what was happening,” stated George, who stated he co-founded the corporate and was its chairman till 2020 and a director till June 2022.

“We had board conferences each quarter, and we met as soon as a month to debate monetary points,” George stated. “David both attended board conferences in particular person or by way of convention calls.”

Doug Hanby, additionally listed within the lawsuit as a board member, additionally disputed the lawsuit’s declare that he’s nonetheless on the board and that he owns 5% of the corporate, saying he additionally left final summer season.

Wells Fargo stated it pulled its info from mortgage paperwork.

Toria Neal.
Toria Neal labored for UFI at one in all its amenities in Mississippi.
Kenzie Neal

Fewer than 5% of corporations submitting for chapter achieve this involuntarily or on the behest of their collectors, in line with distressed debt professional Adam Stein-Sapir.

“If the case goes ahead on an involuntary foundation, it makes the corporate culpable and places it in a worse mild,” Stein-Sapir stated.

“The thought of ​​a debtor abandoning collateral is surprising,” added chapter legal professional Kenneth Rosen. “Notably, such a severely distressed debtor wouldn’t have agreed with its senior lender lengthy earlier than closing.”

UFI and Belford didn’t return requires remark.


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