Advanta Corp.'s bankruptcy has hit some choppy waters that could delay payments to retail investors owed $140.6 million by the defunct Montgomery County credit card company.
At a hearing Wednesday in Wilmington, the committee representing Advanta's unsecured creditors said it was not supporting the company's liquidation plan. The plan was filed Nov. 2 and said retail noteholders - the largest block of unsecured creditors - could expect to recover 64.4 percent to 100 percent of their investments.
The creditors' committee is unhappy with the treatment of $51.8 million in benefit and severance claims by Advanta's two top executives, Dennis Alter and William Rosoff.
Advanta's liquidation plan allows those claims by Alter, Advanta's chairman and chief executive officer, and by Rosoff, the company's vice chairman, to be challenged like any other unsecured claim in court.
The creditors' committee wanted Advanta to consider more aggressive steps to limit those claims, including terminating Alter and Rosoff in a way that would block change-of-control provisions that trigger large payments to the executives.
After Advanta filed its plan this month without adequately addressing the committee's concerns, the committee asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin J. Carey for permission to undertake an investigation of why Advanta acted in a way that appears to favor insiders Alter and Rosoff.
"We do need discovery because we need to understand why it is that the debtors have taken these actions," Robert J. Malionek, an attorney for the committee, said at the hearing.
A lawyer representing Advanta said such an investigation would be a waste of time and would cost money that would otherwise go to creditors.
"The only parties who are going to benefit from delay are the parties who are in the marketplace trying to buy the retail-note claims at a steep discount," Advanta attorney Marcia L. Goldstein said.
Carey split the difference at the conclusion of the hearing. He limited the creditor committee's investigation to depositions of either Alter or Rosoff, plus Max Botel, an independent director who lives in Florida.
If Botel is not available by Monday, the committee's deadline for the depositions, the committee received the judge's permission to depose another independent director, Thomas Costello. For now, at least, the judge did not grant the committee's request for the production of huge piles of documents by Advanta.
The creditors who stand to gain the most by blocking the Alter and Rosoff claims are holders of notes who will receive a payment from the bankruptcy settlement only if the retail noteholders are paid in full.
Those so-called subordinated noteholders, owed $96.5 million, have two representatives on the creditors committee, including the chairman. Under the plan filed Nov. 2, they are expected to recover a maximum of 29.5 percent of their investment.
The next hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, but it could be delayed by the depositions.