The U.S. Bankruptcy Court has approved bidding and purchase procedures for the proposed sale of the Delta Queen, the Mississippi Queen, and other assets and trademarks of the Delta Queen Steamboat CO., to Illinois-based WI-DQSC, a company set up by Chicago-based investment firm Waveland Investments.
The letter of intent filed with the bankruptcy court calls for WI-DQSC to pay $3.75 million in cash, with $3 million paid directly to American Classic Voyages (AMCV), and $750,000 deposited in escrow to fund compensation coupons for past passengers who lost fares and deposits during the AMCV bankruptcy. WI-DQSC will also provide up to $10 million as working capital to fund the organization and operation of the cruise line and the re-launch of the two vessels, the Mississippi Queen this May, and the Delta Queen in August.
The deal - expected to be finalized in late April or early May - would award WI-DQSC with title to the two steamboats not encumbered by MARAD liens, as well as all contents of the Delta Queen office, the reservation system, intellectual property including the Delta Queen trademarks (excluding those related to the other Delta Queen ships), and past passenger lists.
In addition, the letter of intent stated that WI DQSC "is desirous of owning some (or all) of the American Queen, Columbia Queen, Cape May Light, and Cape Cod Light" as it grows the business, but that the "the acquisition of these other vessels is not a condition" of the current transaction.
Auction procedures allow for competing bids for the Delta Queen and Mississippi Queen, however, a competing bid must exceed the WI-DQSC bid by $550,000: $100,000 plus a break-up fee for WI-DQSC of $250,000 plus up to $200,000 in compensation for WI-DQSC's expenses to date.
According to AMCV Senior Vice President and General Counsel Jordan Allen, "We had a very strong level of interest from around 20-25 parties, and received offers from many of them." Almost all of those parties submitted offers for the entire steamboat operation, including vessels encumbered by MARAD liens, with a smaller degree of interest in the coastal vessels.
"Even though the purchase price may seem low to most people," Allen continued, "they (WI-DQSC) are committing the capital necessary to fund the operation for the next six months to a year, and from our perspective, they are well-suited to maintain Delta Queen as a strong brand."
Waveland Investments, explained Allen, has the fmancial backing of Chicago-based JMB REALTY, a company with extensive hotel, real estate, and concessionaire interests.