Janesville69.9°

Freedom's fate remains on hold

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JAMES P. LEUTE
March 4, 2009
— The fate of a troubled Janesville manufacturer was delayed until next week as negotiations continue between a potential buyer and the company's primary creditor.

With liabilities greater than assets, Freedom Plastics entered a court-supervised receivership sale in early February in hopes it could stay in business in Janesville.


One week later, the company's receiver notified the state that more than 100 Freedom employees would be laid off in April unless a buyer steps forward and decides otherwise.


Freedom makes PVC pipes and fittings and supplies the wastewater, plumbing, irrigation and industrial markets. It's been hit hard by a depressed construction economy and mounting costs for raw materials.


Michael Polsky, the court-appointed receiver, said 12 bidders registered for Monday's auction. Numerous rounds of bidding were conducted over a 13-hour period, he said.


The unidentified high bidder offered to buy the company as an operating business for an amount that's less than the approximate $20 million Freedom owes its primary creditor, Bank of America.


The sale includes Freedom's land, buildings and equipment in Janesville and Florida, but it does not include inventory or accounts receivable.


Because the offer is for less than what the bank is owed, the bank has the right to consent to the sale, Polsky said Tuesday during a court hearing that was originally scheduled to wrap up the sale.


"The buyer, the bank and I are all working together to get this done as quickly and efficiently as possible," Polsky said, adding that negotiations continued through Monday night and could not be completed by Tuesday's scheduled court hearing.


Rock County Judge Kenneth Forbeck continued the hearing until next Monday.



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