J.C. Penney on track for Chapter 11 exit before holiday shopping season

JCPenney’s lifeline is getting stronger as a rescue comes together before the key holiday shopping season.

After a lengthy court hearing on Monday, the 118-year-old retail giant has received approval from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas on its previously announced asset purchase agreement with Brookfield Asset Management and Simon Property Group.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SPG SIMON PROPERTY GROUP INC. 78.84 -0.26 -0.33%
BPY BROOKFIELD PROPERTY PARTNERS 15.17 +0.17 +1.13%

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“Our goal from the beginning of this process has been to ensure JCPenney will continue to serve customers for decades to come and this Court approval accomplishes that objective,” JCPenney CEO Jill Soltau said in a statement. “We appreciate the efforts of the Court and the support of our creditors in this process and putting us in a strong position to build on JCPenney’s long track record of taking care of our associates, customers, vendor partners and communities.”

The court approval clears yet another hurdle that will allow the company to exit its Chapter 11 bankruptcy before the holiday season, with the transaction now expected to close in late November.

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Brookfield and Simon will acquire substantially all of JCPenney’s retail and operating assets through a combination of cash and new term loan debt. Meanwhile, a group of First Lien Lenders will own 160 of the company’s real estate assets and all of its owned distribution centers as part of a separate property holding company.

JC Penney also plans to permanently close nearly a third of its 846 stores as part of a restructuring over the next two years, which would leave the company with just over 600 locations. Bankruptcy lawyer Joshua Sussberg of Kirkland & Ellis said at a hearing back in September that the rescue deal would save roughly 70,000 jobs.

The move by the court comes as JCPenney’s fate was hanging by a thread, with its financing agreement set to expire on Nov. 16. The sale would have to close by Nov. 20 for the company to avoid going out of business. The company filed for Chapter 11 in May after the spread of the coronavirus pandemic led to a wave of store closures.

Other retailers who were forced to seek bankruptcy protection as a result of the pandemic include J. Crew Group Inc, Neiman Marcus Group and Brooks Brothers.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Stanford star Catarina Macario ready for new chapter with U.S. women’s national team

After eight years of waiting, hoping and navigating a complicated process, Catarina Macario spent less time completing her U.S. citizenship than she does playing a soccer game.

Called to an immigration office in San Jose, California, last week for her citizenship test, Macario answered six questions posed by her case officer. After she answered all six correctly, she was presented with a packet that included her certificate of naturalization. In normal times, Macario might have scheduled an appointment to return for a swearing-in ceremony. In coronavirus-pandemic times, the official told her she could wait around for an ad hoc ceremony in the parking lot with other successful applicants or take care of it right away in the office.

The Stanford senior opted for the latter.

“Honestly, I had midterms and I almost just wanted to get it over with,” Macario said. “I was by myself anyway, so I just chose the easier route.”

Hours before the Brazilian-born Macario officially became an American citizen, U.S. Soccer announced she was among the players whom Vlatko Andonovski invited to the women’s national team training camp on October. Her first call to the senior national team coincides with that team’s first activities since March and first tentative steps toward next summer’s rescheduled Olympics.

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The 10-day camp in Colorado, which will be conducted in a bubble and under strict COVID-19 protocols, is an afterthought to some. Much of the core of the team that won the 2019 Women’s World Cup and qualified for the Olympics will be absent. Tobin Heath, Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan and Sam Mewis are in England. Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe are injured or absent by choice. But for many of the 27 invitees, the camp is a chance to make an impression with a new coach who is planning not just for the Olympics next year, but the 2023 World Cup.

For Macario, who moves one step closer to becoming the first naturalized citizen to play for the women’s team, the camp was a lifetime in the making.

“The fact that it all happened the same day was just really magical,” Macario said. “I know that Oct. 8 will forever be a very important date in my calendar.”

Macario was ecstatic when she got the email informing her of the impending camp invite a few days before the official announcement, but she was also apprehensive when she spoke with Andonovski. She told him she was grateful for the call-up but worried that she might not be able to put her best foot forward.

USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski believes that anyone who has seen Macario play for Stanford knows that she is a special talent. Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty
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