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In re Marathon Foundry and Machine Co.

December 22, 1955


Author: Schnackenberg



Debtor has appealed from an order of the district court entered May 27, 1955, directing appellees to sell, for $910,129.58, to Intelectron, Inc. 32,126 shares of the capital stock of Bethlehem Foundry & Machine Co., a Pennsylvania corporation, which stock is an asset of debtor, but which is subject to liens aggregating $500,000 more or less.

An involuntary petition in bankruptcy was filed against debtor on April 30, 1953. Debtor filed its voluntary petition for reorganization under chapter X of the bankruptcy act*fn1 on May 20, 1953. Said petition was approved as filed in good faith and thereafter appellees were appointed trustees in the reorganization proceedings. In addition to its Bethlehem stock, debtor's assets consisted of a manufacturing plant and equipment at Wausau, Wisconsin*fn1a, controversial claims against various individuals and indirectly against the United States aggregating about $350,000, and thereafter a fund of approximately $165,000 held by Chicage Title and Trust Company, pursuant to order of court, to insure payment of certain tax and lien claims, and a small amount of cash accumulated by the trustees as a result of the operation of the debtor. The Bethlehem holdings constitute about 70 per cent of Bethlehem's outstanding stock.

On March 14, 1955, the trustees filed a petition in the district court, requesting instructions. At that time no plan of reorganization had been filed. They advised the court that it would be to the best interests of all parties that the Bethlehem stock be sold to the best and highest bidder; that they had no funds with which to redeem the stock, which was held by secured creditors; that such sale would make it possible to pay such secured creditors in full and to realize an additional sum to assure the general creditors a substantial amount, while still leaving the other assets of the debtor to be the subject of a plan of reorganization. The trustees further represented that they had been able to obtain an offer of about $800,000 for said stock, free and clear of any lien.

On March 14, 1955, the district court entered an order that all parties in interest show cause why such sale should not be made. The court by said order also appointed an appraiser to fix the value of the Bethlehem stock, and called for bids.

The district court on April 1, 1955 ordered, inter alia that the trustees should file by July 20, 1955 a plan of reorganization or report their reasons why a plan could not be effected.

On April 22, 1955, the debtor, "by Jacob Dyner," filed written objections to the proposed sale of the Bethlehem stock on the following grounds: (1) no plan of reorganization had been approved, (2) the stock was the principal asset of the debtor and there was no showing of any emergency to justify its sale otherwise than in pursuance of a plan of reorganization, and (3) said sale would make impossible the reorganization of the debtor.

On April 25, 1955 the appraiser fixed the value of the stock at $775,521.64.

Pursuant to notice a referee in bankruptcy, beginning April 25, 1955, heard evidence in support of and against the petition, and on that day bids were received, the highest and best bid being that of Intelectron, Inc., for $910,129.58.

By an amended objection debtor submitted at the adjourned referee's hearing of May 9, 1955 a letter from A. J. Armstrong Co. It was dated April 20, 1955, and addressed to Jacob Dyner who, according to the letter, had represented to Armstrong that he was the sole owner of all outstanding Marathon stock. By this letter Armstrong offered to make a loan to Marathon in a sum not to exceed $975,000, to "be evidenced by a promissory note of Marathon and other instruments and agreements containing such terms, conditions, interest rates and maturity as shall be mutually agreeable to you, Marathon, and Armstrong." It was conditioned, inter alia, on an undertaking by Marathon to pledge its Bethlehem stock on the loan. The letter bore the notation "the foregoing agreement is hereby accepted:" followed by Dyner's signature. Debtor informed the court of a later telegram to Dyner from Armstrong, which said: "Such loan to be made by Armstrong shall be evidenced by a promissory note of Marathon, and by the usual form of loan and security agreement - ."

Both the referee and the district court overruled the objections filed by the debtor. By order of May 27, 1955 (entered nunc pro tunc as of May 9, 1955), which is the order appealed from, it was provided, inter alia, that the said stock should be sold unless (a) suggestions for a plan assuring to the estate and creditors thereof a greater return than the bid of Intelectron, Inc., with security for the consummation thereof, were filed by June 24, 1955*fn2; or, (b) there shall have been deposited by May 20, 1955, sufficient funds to discharge all of the debts of the debtor and costs of administration; or (c) the trustees shall have filed by July 20, 1955, their plan of reorganization providing for retention or other disposition of the Bethlehem stock.*fn3 None of these events has occurred.

The only plan presented was that filed by the trustees on July 20, 1955. Said plan recognized the sale of the 70 per cent interest in Bethlehem to Intelectron, Inc., for the sum of $910,129.58, and provided for the use of the equity derived therefrom, and for the placing of the remainder of the assets of the debtor in a new company to be formed. No court action appears to have been taken on this plan.

On July 28, 1955, the district court entered an order finding that no plan had been filed by any one but the trustees, and again directing the trustees to consummate the sale of Bethlehem stock to Intelectron, Inc. for the sum of ...

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