Lafayette-based helicopter transport company PHI, Inc. has settled with two creditors and hopes to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy next month with a plan that involves CEO and board chairman Al Gonsoulin retiring from the company.
The company announced last week it has settled with creditors in bankruptcy court in a significant development in its reorganization plan. The agreement calls for Gonsoulin to step aside and be replaced with COO Lance Bospflug, who will be named to the company's board.
Calling the move "the equivalent of a palace coup," a Bloomberg report indicated creditors will drop its opposition to the plan in exchange for total ownership and Gonsoulin's retirement.
"This settlement represents a crucial and positive turning point in the case," Bospflug said. "We are pleased with the progress made so far and are confident that (this) outcome is a strong indicator that we remain on course to achieving a consensual Plan and emergence with the support and partnership of our lenders and the UCC (Unsecured Creditors Committee).
"While we have work to do to satisfy the terms of the agreement, we continue to believe that our Chapter 11 filing and plan of reorganization represent the best course of action to address PHI's matured debt and strengthen our balance sheet, while positioning the company for continued leadership in our industry and meeting all of our commitments to our stakeholders."
The Bloomberg report also indicated that PHI insisted Gonsoulin be allowed to swap the $130 million loan he made to the company for a new equity stake, which would have allowed him to retain ownership. Instead, he will be paid $132.5 million and he must retire and agree not to compete with the company or make disparaging comments about it for three years.
PHI provides offshore helicopter support to companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico as well as across the globe. Located at 2001 SE Evangeline Thruway, it employs 2,477 companywide, according to its company profile.
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