The Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday announced that it had suspended trading in Baldwin-United Corp. securities and options until July 9, at the request of the financially ailing Cincinnati conglomerate.
Baldwin stock has been volatile and heavily traded in recent weeks because of persistent rumors that several of its creditors plan to push the company into bankruptcy.
Victor H. Palmieri, a corporate turnaround specialist who was brought in to head Baldwin in May, said Tuesday and again yesterday that he had "no knowledge" that any creditors planned to file bankruptcy proceedings against the company and that the company itself would not.
Baldwin, which until the late 1960s was a piano manufacturer, got into financial trouble last year after it purchased the MGIC Invesment Corp. for nearly $1.2 billion. To make the purchase, it had to borrow from its bankers and was unable to repay those banks $440 million last March.
The banks have given Baldwin an extension until July 15 and, in return, Baldwin has pledged stock in some of its most valuable subsidiaries--including MGIC and its insurance companies--to those banks.
Reportedly, some Baldwin bondholders want a chance to share in that collateral and can do so only by pushing Baldwin into reorganization soon.
Palmieri wants to negotiate another "standstill agreement" with bank and nonbank creditors until Sept. 30. All told, Baldwin owes more than $1 billion to bankers and bondholders and several bondholders are trying to force Baldwin to pay off the bonds early. If that happens, much of Baldwin's long-term debt would come due immediately.
The SEC said that it imposed the trading suspension not only on the basis of the company's request--which said it wanted to protect its securities holders while it attempts to negotiate new financial agreements--but also because Baldwin is late in filing its March 31 quarterly report with the SEC.
Baldwin also was late in filing its annual report. In that report, the company admitted that it had huge debts coming due in July and no way of repaying them. Palmieri, who replaced the ousted Morley Thompson as Baldwin president, has said he plans to sell some Baldwin operations to raise cash.