Refco, Inc. said today that there is strong and growing interest in the sale of its regulated subsidiaries, which were excluded from the company's Chapter 11 filing.
The regulated units primarily include: Refco, LLC and its affiliates Refco Securities, LLC, Refco Overseas Ltd., Refco (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., Refco Investment Services Pte. Ltd., Refco Canada Co., Refco India PVT Ltd., Refco Securities SA, Refco Taiwan Ltd., and Refco Japan Ltd. They operate under the oversight of regulatory agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in the U.S., the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in London, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in Singapore and Investment Dealers Association of Canada.
Bidders have also expressed interest in all of Refco's businesses and are evaluating them as part of the bid process.
"The strong and growing interest in the sale of Refco's regulated subsidiaries, in particular, is evidence of the widespread recognition within the financial community of the value of Refco as a viable, going-concern business," said William Sexton, chief executive officer of the company.
Refco's regulated businesses, which are governed by the rules and regulations of the world's established exchanges and regulatory authorities, continue to operate and remain viable businesses. Refco's management and the board believe that the value of these businesses could be best realized by selling them to knowledgeable and experienced bidders as a going concern. This judgment has been validated by the number of buyers who wish to participate in the bankruptcy court-supervised auction at prices that may be significantly in excess of regulatory capital.
"We realize that recent events affecting Refco have caused concern and uncertainty, so it is critical that our customers and brokers understand that customer accounts in the exchange-traded business operate in full compliance with all rules governing the treatment of customers funds and continue to enjoy all of the protections and guarantees afforded to all those who trade on regulated exchanges," added Mr. Sexton.
At the hearing Monday, the Court approved a deadline of Nov. 4 for the submission of bids for the auction slated for Nov. 9 with final court approval of the sale slated for Nov. 10. The Court also sharply reduced the maximum break-up fee and expenses that had been part of the agreement with the Flowers' group to $5 million and $1 million, respectively. The Court is expected to formally sign the order after modifications have been made.
The Court's decision comes as the dollar amount offered for Refco's regulated businesses has grown. In its October 17 offer to buy the firm, the Flowers group proposed a price of $768 million. By today, just eight days later, there are reports of offers exceeding $850 million.
"The purpose of the memorandum of understanding with J.C. Flowers and their selection as a "stalking horse" in the auction process was to ensure that Refco received the best and highest bids for its assets, thereby maximizing recovery for creditors," said Mr. Sexton. "It is clear that the process we are undertaking is doing just that," he said. "It is also clear from the activity in Court Monday and the widespread expressions of interest that these businesses have substantially more value as going concerns than as liquidated assets.
"That we accomplished this under such trying circumstances is evidence of the value of Refco's businesses and people, especially its regulated brokerage operations," Mr. Sexton continued.
Refco units in the so-called unregulated or over-the-counter market, including Refco Capital Markets, Ltd., are now operating under the full protection of Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The future of the accounts at those units will be determined by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.
Mr. Sexton noted that Refco's employees and brokers continue to play a critical role in the future of the company. "Our employees and brokers are among the Company's most important assets," he said. "Their support and loyalty throughout this process has been extraordinary," he added.
"As a company, we will continue to work together and move as quickly as possible to resolve these matters as transparently and efficiently as possible."