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Utah's Mrs. Fields seeking refinancing deal

Published November 29, 2011 12:21 pm

Debt • Creditors would become largest shareholders.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Mrs. Fields Famous Brands is in the midst of a series of financial transactions designed to help the company gain access to additional capital and return to profitability.

The Salt Lake City-based company, made famous by cookie entrepreneur Debbie Fields, said it hopes to finalize the refinancing by Dec. 5.

"I feel like our Mrs. Fields and TCBY (frozen yogurt) brands have unrealized potential, and the successful completion of the refinancing is a critical step in our ongoing mission to take these brands to the next level globally," President and CEO Tim Casey said in a recent statement.



Casey said the refinancing is supported by Z Capital Partners and The Carlyle Group, which combined hold the majority of the treat vendor's $65 million in senior secured notes. They will become the company's largest shareholders if the refinancing is completed as planned.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg News reported that Mrs. Fields was poised to swap its debt for equity to avoid bankruptcy. However, the report said the company could file a prepackaged bankruptcy if the swap wasn't approved by next month.

Mrs. Fields, which emerged from a previous bankruptcy three years ago, franchises more than 1,200 stores under its brand and the TCBY frozen-yogurt banner.

Some U.S. restaurant operators are struggling with surging commodity costs and flagging consumer confidence, leading Friendly Ice Cream Corp. and RM Restaurant Holding Corp. to seek bankruptcy protection earlier this year. Both chains cited the economic slowdown for shrinking sales.

Debbie Fields opened her first cookie store in Palo Alto, Calif., in 1977 and began franchising in 1990, according to Mrs. Fields' website.

Casey, a former executive at coffee-chain Starbucks Corp., became CEO of the cookie business in May 2010.

Capricorn Holdings, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based investment firm, bought Mrs. Fields in 1996 and merged the company with TCBY after acquiring the frozen-yogurt maker in 2000, according to Capricorn's website.

Mrs. Fields sought bankruptcy protection in 2008 and emerged with bondholders having a controlling equity stake, while Capricorn retained a minority position in the reorganized company.

steve@sltrib.com

Twitter: @OberbeckBiz

 

 

 

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