Most of bankrupt Far&Wide Corp.’s business units are expected
to find buyers by mid-November, wrapping up the first phase of the
largest tour operator bankruptcy in recent history.
At an Oct. 23 hearing, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Mark
approved the sale of Adventure Center, Tourlite Zeus, IST Cultural
Tours, Journeys Unlimited, and Regina Tours for a total of
$195,000. The sales are expected to close within a few weeks.
In addition, Ronan Ryan, a former owner of Brian Moore
International Tours, filed a motion to purchase that unit for
$75,000, plus some liabilities.
But an auction to consider higher bidders for Brian Moore, a
tour operation specializing in Ireland and the United Kingdom, is
likely to be scheduled for next week.
And negotiations are continuing on remaining units, including
Central Holidays, Spanish Heritage, Prism Holidays, and
Intercontinental Travel Co.
Still, Far&Wide President Phil Bakes said it is possible
“one or more” units may not find buyers, but the sale of most units
will provide significant protection to currently booked
The U.S. Tour Operators Association also announced plans to file
a petition in court to give consumers higher priority as creditors
in the case. It remains unclear how many consumers who booked trips
with the 16 tour brands within Far&Wide have been affected
since the Sept. 24 filing for bankruptcy.
Bob Whitley, the tour operator association president, said, “We
feel very strongly that the court should put consumers ahead of
Far&Wide owes more than $75 million to secured creditors,
which typically are given first priority in bankruptcy cases.
Ableco Finance, a subsidiary of Cereberus Capital Management, is
owed more than $8 million. The lender has a lien on company assets
and, as the most senior creditor, has the highest priority.
At the Oct. 23 hearing, Mark approved the sale of Adventure
Center, based in Emeryville, Calif., to First Choice Holdings, a
U.K.-based leisure tour operator with operations worldwide, for
$70,000. Tourlite Zeus went to a company controlled by former owner
Nick Athans for $75,000.
And three divisions went to Michael Goren, the former owner of
IST Cultural Tours, for $50,000: IST, Regina Tours, and Journeys
Previously, African Travel, Lion World, Grand European Tours and
Swain Australia Tours were sold to Travel Corp.
The Kendall Group also had purchased High Country; and Peter
Yeung had purchased Pacific Bestours.