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Amelia Island Plantation Expecting Additional Bids in Bankruptcy Proceedings:
Currently Noble Investment Group has a $45.9 million Bid in Place


By Mark Basch, The Florida Times-Union, JacksonvilleMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

July 07, 2010--One Atlanta-based hotel investor already has a bid in place, but an attorney for the owner of the Amelia Island Plantation expects other bids to emerge later this month when the resort is put up for auction in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Jacksonville.

"We do expect more than one purchaser when we do have the auction," said Richard Thames, attorney for the Amelia Island Co., at a bankruptcy court hearing Tuesday.

The company filed a Chapter 11 reorganization plan in May that included a $45.9 million bid by Noble Investment Group to buy the Plantation. But other interested parties have until July 29 to submit higher bids than Noble, which operates 50 hotels in 13 states.

Thames said at least two other "serious prospects" have indicated interest in bidding and there may be more.

"We're optimistic there will be competitive bidding," he said.

But one potential bidder likely dropped out Tuesday. Northview Hotel Group LLC, a hotel investment firm based in Connecticut and California, filed a motion seeking to alter the bid procedures so that the potential buyer would not have to buy certain "ancillary assets" that it said are not essential to operating the resort. But U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul Glenn rejected that motion.

Northview's attorney, Charles Throckmorton, said the firm can't bid on the Plantation if it has to include those extra assets.

"We can't go forward with our financing under this structure," he said. After the hearing, Throckmorton said he hadn't had a chance to contact his client so he didn't know if Northview would reconsider and make a bid.

Thames said most parties involved are in agreement on the Amelia Island Co.'s reorganization plan and he asked Glenn not to change the bidding procedures because it would delay the process.

"We're trying to keep this coalition together and move it forward across the finish line," he said.

At Tuesday's hearing, Glenn gave conditional approval to the company's disclosure statement, which allows the company to send out packets to creditors describing the reorganization plan and soliciting their votes on it. A hearing to confirm the plan is scheduled for Aug. 26.

Amelia Island Co. president Jack Healan said Tuesday that operations at the resort have been going well despite the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process. The company filed for Chapter 11 last November.

"We're busy as we've ever been," Healan said. "We may have a record July."

mark.basch@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4308

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