Thursday, September 13, 2001

Baldwin retains firm to assist with finances

By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Struggling Baldwin Piano & Organ Co. has retained a Philadelphia-based investment bank to arrange either a sale of the company or help arrange new financing.

        U.S. Bankruptcy Judge J. Vincent Aug Jr. indicated Wednesday he would approve hiring of Berwind Financial L.P. following a brief hearing on Baldwin's request to retain the firm.

        Timothy Hurley, Baldwin's bankruptcy lawyer, said the 140-year-old piano maker, which sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on May 31 interviewed firms from Cleveland and New York as well and found Berwind “in terms of cost and expertise to be the best choice.”

        Under Baldwin's amended financing agreement with General Electric Credit Corp., the piano maker was required to hire an investment banker to seek a bidder for a planned Oct. 15 court-supervised auction of the company.

        At the same time, Berwind is working with Baldwin to line up investment in the company. Baldwin's managers, who believe the company's assets exceed its liabilities, hope the new investment will persuade GECC to cancel or postpone the planned auction.

        Richard Nelson, lawyer for Brent Baird, Baldwin's largest shareholder, said the company's largest investors are slated to meet as soon as todayin New York City to discuss financing alternatives.

        Previously, Baldwin officials said a combination of new investment by existing shareholders and new financing arranged through Arkansas state officials would reduce its $29 million debt to GECC and give it additional working capital.

        Baldwin employs about 400 at two plants in Arkansas.


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