Per rilevare Worldspace Yenura ha versato 25,3 milioni di dollari. In cambio ottiene tutti gli assets materiali – satelliti, brevetti, stazioni di terra – e il controllo delle sussidiarie che non sono coinvolte in altre cause per bancarotta. Worldspace Europe, Worldspace Europe Holdings e Worldspace UK per esempio sono tutte coinvolte in cause separate. C’è poi l’intricata questione della posizione dell’italiana New Satellite Radio e del progetto di un servizio di pay radio satellitare in Italia, in collaborazione con Telecom Italia e con Fiat. Un progetto che in questo momento appare ancora molto in sospeso ma che NSR ha cercato di difendere in tribunale in queste settimane, opponendosi alla messa all’asta di Worldspace. Secondo NSR gli accordi presi con Worldspace per l’accesso ai transponder su Afristar e dei satelliti futuri, sarebbero stati vincolanti e avrebbero dovuto costringere la società fallita a non includere tra i beni strumentali messi all’incanto quelli necessari per il lancio di Worldspace Italia. Ora che l’asta si è conclusa il nuovo proprietario di quei beni è Yenura. Resta da vedere che cosa decideranno di fare Samara e il controverso Idris. Worldspace Italia partirà lo stesso?
Samara buys Worldspace
The Worldspace Chapter 11 bankruptcy is over. The news came via a 150-page document from the Delaware Bankruptcy Court. A company controlled by Noah Samara, the founder and CEO at Worldspace, successfully bid $25,300,000 in cash in an auction for Worldspace’s pay-radio assets.
The winning bid came from Yenura Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based business. However, the bid comes with some major challenges, not least the former Worldspace subsidiaries that are financially cash-strapped or may themselves be bankrupt. There are also some major questions over the position of Worldspace’s former ‘partners’ around the world, and especially in regard to relationships with important players like Italian carmaker Fiat.
Yenura Pte Ltd is based in Singapore and already placed large sums into pre-bankruptcy Worldspace. Yenura has been lending cash to Worldspace since at least 1998 when an interlinked series of agreements were made between Industrial Development Inc (of the British Virgin Islands) and Salah Idris (see below), and Saifcom Establishment (of Liechtenstein) and Yenura were signed. At one stage Yenura placed $40m at Worldspace’s disposal, but not all that cash was paid over.
Yenura is itself mired in controversy because of Mr Samara’s other shareholder in the business. That individual, Salah Idris, holds all the non-voting shares in Yenura and thus the economic interest in the company. Mr Idris was accused in 1999 by the US of making chemical weapons at a pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan, and the facility was destroyed by US cruise missiles. Mr Idris has always robustly and firmly denied any involvement in chemical weapons, or of being linked in any way with Osama bin Laden. WorldSpace’s own statements of the time stress: "These allegations were subject to serious challenge in the press and to our knowledge have never been substantiated. Moreover, Mr Idris has never appeared on the US Government’s designated terrorist list."
Yenura is listed in Worldspace’s recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a major unsecured creditor, owed some $55m.
Part of the Court agreement (Section 14.12) states that “no party shall make any press release or public announcement concerning the transactions.”
The agreement covers all the assets of Worldspace, including its satellites, patents, and ground control facilities, and subsidiary companies where they are not involved in separate bankruptcy proceedings. Worldspace Europe, Worldspace UK, Worldspace Europe Holdings are all involved in separate bankruptcy actions.
The Court documents also show the long list of litigation currently being faced by Worldspace, not least a Class Action claim of misrepresentation in Worldspace’s IPO registration statement. A former COO, Alex Brown is suing the broadcaster for $500,000 in salary/holiday pay and so forth.