GulfMark directors entitled to cash, bankruptcy judge says

Directors of offshore service vessel company, GulfMark Offshore Inc., currently in bankruptcy, are looking to walk out the door with big financial packages  — almost $5 million — in their pockets. And Judge Kevin Gross of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware ruled that they are entitled to it, much to the chagrin of bondholders ready to take over the reigns of the company, according to a Nov. 8 report in the Wall Street Journal.

At a court hearing last week, Evan Fleck, lawyer for the bondholders, said plans had already been made to put the disputed cash aside, so that GulfMark will be able to finish up its exit financing and come out of bankruptcy within days, the WSJ report said.

Bondholders expected the judge to be on their side, complaining that David Butters, chairman of GulfMark’s board of directors, was holding up the company’s exit from chapter 11, demanding $3.7 million in deferred compensation, the WSJ said.

GulfMark filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May. Last month, the OSV company reached an agreement to reshape its balance sheet by way of a debt-for-equity swap. Bondholders unsuccessfully sought an emergency court order to force GulfMark to implement its chapter 11 plan, the WSJ said.

GulfMark’s legal team echoed the company’s stand that there is no need for a court order, no emergency and no justification for what was characterized in court papers as “strong-arm” tactics, the WSJ said.

At a hearing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, GulfMark lawyer Gary Holtzer said the departing directors don’t want to negotiate with the new owners, which includes representatives of investment firms Raging Capital Management LLC, Q Investments LP and Newport Capital Group, according to the Journal report.

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