The family that built Southland Corp. from a string of Dallas ice houses to the world's largest convenience store chain has turned the company over to investors from Japan.
A $430 million cash purchase by Ito Yokado Co. Ltd. and Seven-Eleven Japan Co. Ltd. closed a yearlong restructuring and a quick trip through bankruptcy court for Southland, owner of 7-Eleven stores.The company's chief financial officer, Clark Matthews, became Southland's chief executive with the consummation of the deal, which infuses the company with cash to help it out from under the debt burden of a 1987 leveraged buyout.
"Equally important is the fact that (Ito Yokodo and Seven-Eleven Japan) know both the convenience retailing business and 7-Eleven very well," Matthews said.
The purchase gives the Japanese affiliates a 70 percent stake in the new Southland. The reorganization plan also provided a 25 percent stake in the new company for bondholders and other creditors.
Southland's stockholders, primarily the founding Thompson family, will have a 5 percent stake. Some bondholders have an option to increase their stake in Southland at the expense of the Thompsons, who started the company in 1927.
The securities and stock exchanges will begin soon, said Southland spokeswoman Cecilia Norwood. The company's new common stock will trade on the NASDAQ market with the new bonds and warrants traded over the counter and not quoted by the exchange.
The Dallas company owns 6,600 7-Eleven stores in the United States and Canada and licenses another 6,400 stores in 22 countries. About 4,200 of the overseas stores are operated by the Japanese buyers.
Norwood said customers would see "no difference whatsoever" in the operations of 7-Eleven. "We expect the company to continue operating as it has in the past," she said.
The company filed for bankruptcy protection in late October, saying it was burdened by debt from the $5 billion leveraged buyout the Thompsons made to take the company private in 1987.
The company filed a "prepackaged" bankruptcy plan, one that has already been approved by creditors, to speed through the reorganization process.
Some bondholders complained, in a confirmation hearing in December, that Southland solicited votes on the plan from the wrong people.
The company conducted its reorganization vote among the investment brokers, called record holders, who keep Southland bonds on behalf of individual investors. But dissident bondholders said individual investors should have been given a vote.
Southland didn't have the ability, under securities laws, to find out who the individuals were until U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Harold Abramson authorized such disclosure and ordered a second vote.
That vote, completed Feb. 16, found more than 93 percent of the voting bondholders in support of the reorganization.
The typical Chapter 11 approach, in which a company files and then later presents a judge with a reorganization plan that must be approved by creditors, can take months and even years.