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In Wind-Down, Bankrupt Suniva Wants to Abandon Solar Panels

A U.S. solar company that convinced Washington, D.C., to impose protective tariffs on cheap imports to help it survive is seeking bankruptcy court approval to abandon its inventory of solar panels as it winds down operations, Reuters reported. In a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware late on Tuesday, Suniva Inc. requested approval to abandon solar panels with a liquidation value that it says exceeds $6 million. The filing follows news last week that Suniva’s biggest creditor, SQN Capital Management, won an auction of the solar company’s technology, licenses and manufacturing equipment.

Westinghouse Challenges Fluor Over $260 Million Bankruptcy Claims

Westinghouse Electric Co. is battling former subcontractor Fluor Corp. over some $260 million in damage claims stemming from failed efforts to launch a new wave of nuclear reactors in the U.S., WSJ Pro Bankruptcy reported. The dispute erupted at the tail end of a bankruptcy that saw most of Westinghouse separated from its Japanese parent, Toshiba Corp., and sold to Brookfield Business Partners LP for $4.6 billion. Fluor’s bankruptcy claims include fees linked to the termination of Westinghouse’s contracts to build new reactors in South Carolina and Georgia, projects where cost overruns and delays mounted for years. Fluor was a subcontractor that worked on the projects for about 14 months before Westinghouse filed for chapter 11 protection and scrapped its construction business.

Bond Market ‘Very Forgiving’ of Alabama County’s Record Collapse

For localities worried about facing big bond-market penalties if they go bankrupt, consider Jefferson County, Alabama. The county of 659,000 people — once the largest municipality to ever seek bankruptcy protection — has sold debt several times since emerging from court protection in 2013, Bloomberg News reported. Carrying an investment-grade rating of AA- in May, the county completed a refinancing of its general-obligation debt by paying yields of 2.86 percent on bonds due in 2026, just about half a percentage point above top-rated debt. While Jefferson County has gotten market access and its investment-grade rating back, the process was far from painless. Contending at the same time with revenue lost when a court struck down a key tax, it fired 1,300 employees, put off roadwork and shuttered inpatient services at its hospital that cared for the poor. To exit bankruptcy, officials agreed to raise sewer rates 8 percent annually through October 2018, followed by yearly jumps of 3.5 percent until 2053. Creditors including JPMorgan Chase & Co. forgave $1.4 billion of debt.

Judge Authorizes Lead Bid For Gawker

A judge approved the lead bid for Gawker on Wednesday while a lawyer for the blog’s former publisher said two or three other parties have also expressed interest in potentially acquiring the mothballed website, WSJ Pro Bankruptcy reported. Bankruptcy Judge Stuart Bernstein authorized the $1.13 million lead offer from Mineola, N.Y.-based advertising firm Didit during a hearing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. The court also set a July 9 deadline for submitting potentially higher bids for the blog. Advisers liquidating Gawker Media LLC will hold a bankruptcy auction if rival offers for the site emerge in the coming weeks.

Deutsche Bank to Pay $205 Million to Settle New York Currency Rigging Charges

Deutsche Bank AG has agreed to pay a fine of $205 million for violations of New York’s banking laws, the state’s department of financial Services said yesterday, Reuters reported. Violations, that took place between 2007 and 2013, include efforts to improperly coordinate trading activity through online chat rooms, sharing confidential customer information, trading aggressively to rig prices, and misleading customers. The litigation followed worldwide probes into currency manipulation that resulted in about $10 billion in fines for several large banks. Under the consent order announced yesterday, Deutsche Bank will take steps to prevent similar incidents from occurring again by improving senior management oversight of the company’s compliance with the state laws and regulations relating to the company’s foreign exchange trading business.

Companies Race to Top Off Pension Plans to Capitalize on Tax Break

Companies with underfunded pensions have a rare opportunity to score a tax break in the coming months, the Wall Street Journal reported. Pension contributions made through mid-September can be deducted from income on tax returns being filed for 2017 — when the U.S. corporate tax rate was still 35 percent. That means a company that contributes $100 million to its pension plan now can save $35 million in taxes, while a company contributing the same amount after the deadline would save just $21 million, based on the new 21 percent corporate tax rate. With the deadline less than three months away, corporations are preparing to top off their pension plans to take advantage of the beneficial tax treatment. This one-time incentive is helping corporations close a pension funding gap that topped $680 billion for S&P 1500 companies after the financial crisis, according to consulting firm Mercer.
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