Court Approves Bidding Process For Noranda’s Upstream Business

Noranda Aluminum Holding Corporation (NAHC) has received a court order approving and establishing the bidding procedure for sale of its upstream business, paving the way for auction of the company’s remaining operations in September.

Under the approved procedures, September 15, 2016 is the deadline for interested parties to submit qualified bids and September 22, 2016 is the auction date. Under the upstream timeline approved, the court will hold a hearing on September 27, 2016, to approve the results of the upstream sales process.

The order said stalking horse bids or early offers are permitted for the upstream operations.

In mid-June Noranda disclosed that it had filed a request to also sell its upstream business in a court-supervised process.

Its upstream or primary aluminum business consists of a bauxite mine in St Ann, Jamaica, an alumina refinery in Gramercy, Louisiana, and a 263,000-tonne-per-year aluminum smelter in New Madrid, Missouri.

The Government of Jamaica owns 51 per cent of the assets of Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners, which is managed and operated by Noranda Bauxite Ltd, a subsidiary of NAHC.

Noranda now has the go-ahead to sell its primary business.

In the “Order Establishing Bidding Procedures for sale of the Upstream Business and Granting Related Relief” listed on docket 998 and filed on July 20 in the United States Bankruptcy Court Eastern District Missouri Southeastern Division, it was indicated it was the intention of the court to protect the confidential information of Noranda’s suppliers during the sale process.

The court noted as well that those seeking settlement of contracts should respond to the Cure Notice attached to the order within 15 days.

The order speaks to “sale of all, or substantially all, of the assets comprising the debtors’ primary aluminum production business (the “Upstream Business”) operated by Noranda Aluminum, Inc, Noranda Bauxite Ltd and Noranda Alumina LLC.”

Bidders are expected to submit written indications of interest specifying, among other things, “the subject assets proposed to be acquired, the amount and type consideration to be offered, and any other material terms,” as stated in the court order.

The court noted that credit parties shall have the right to credit bid all or any portion of the aggregate amount of their applicable outstanding secured obligations.

Noranda and its affiliates and subsidiaries first filed for bankruptcy in early February 2016.

Jamaica’s University and Allied Workers Union is listed as Noranda’s fourth largest unsecured creditor with a claim of US$2.86 million, which is described as a litigation settlement.

Overall, Noranda owes upwards of US$10 billon to creditors, as disclosed in its bankruptcy filing. indicates that Noranda had between 1,000 and 5,000 creditors in total, assets of between US$1 billion and US$10 billion, and liabilities of between US$1 billion and US$10 billion.

Gränges AB who made a stalking horse bid for downstream operations emerged winner in a court-supervised auction of Noranda’s aluminum rolling business two weeks ago. That company is awaiting final approval as buyer from the US Bankruptcy Court. Closing is expected during the third quarter of 2016.