Samson backs out of bidding

Nov. 21, 2013 @ 12:16 PM

Samson Holding Ltd. did not place a bid for Furniture Brands International on Wednesday but has not ruled out trying later to buy specific company brands, Samson officials told the publication Furniture Today.

The company worked around the clock for several weeks to put together a bid but was not able to meet the accelerated bid deadline of 9 a.m. Wednesday, said Mohamad Amini, executive director of Samson Holding and president of its Lacquer Craft manufacturing arm.

"Basically, we dedicated a lot of resources, financially and management time, but the process was made very challenging and got abusive," Amini told Furniture Today. "We were made to feel like we were making a hostile takeover, and the rules were changed on us. With the time being shortened and the amount of work we had to do, we couldn't feel comfortable moving forward. This was the result of a process that was not friendly."

There were no other bids submitted to challenge KPS Capital Partners, which became the lead bidder in September with a $280 million offer for all of Furniture Brands' assets.

A hearing scheduled for Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court is set to address a number of issues, including an objection by Broadbill Investment Partners, a major shareholder in Furniture Brands, that the accelerated sale schedule will bring less value to shareholders and creditors because other potential bidders need more time to work out their details. Allowing more time also could allow deals to emerge that would save the employee pension fund, Broadbill's filing said.

If that objection fails, however, Friday could be the day that Furniture Brands' new ownership becomes certain.

Samson disclosed in an SEC filing on Nov. 1 that it planned to place a bid by the Dec. 5 bid deadline that would be the same or better than the KPS bid. Four days later, Furniture Brands filed a motion to accelerate the bid process in order to "improve the recovery, minimize the costs associated with the restructuring, and provide greater certainty to all stakeholders."

But industry insiders speculated that the change in dates was meant to block Samson from bidding.

Samson, which owns 9.5 percent of Furniture Brands' stock, owns U.S.-based Universal Furniture, Legacy Classic and Craftmaster. It also is one of the largest furniture manufacturers in Asia and has produced furniture over the years for various Furniture Brands companies. In 2007, Samson tried to buy Furniture Brands but was rebuffed by company management.

Amini told Furniture Today that Samson remains interested in individual brands, though he did not name them, and may consider acquiring them at some point in the future.

"We still consider the brands to be important brands for the industry, and we still feel like with our manufacturing strength and our understanding of the industry, we could bring a lot of win-win synergy for us and the brands," he said. "We will consider opportunities in the future if there is a chance for us to discuss it under different circumstances. The current process just made it very difficult for us to properly move forward."