WSJ: Simmons Financiers Seek Chinese Bidder

(Reuters) – A group of financiers is trying to put a U.S. mattress maker now under bankruptcy court protection into play by encouraging Chinese bidders to top an already arranged offer for Simmons Bedding Co., the Wall Street Journal reported late on Saturday.

Success looks unlikely for the eleventh-hour effort to encourage a Chinese bidder to challenge a deal already worked out between Simmons, its creditors and new investors, the report said, quoting sources involved in the effort.

It is the first attempt by the government-linked Chinese financiers behind the Simmons push, as well as the Pennsylvania-based bankruptcy lawyer trying to find similar deals for them, to help Chinese bidders shop for acquisitions in U.S. bankruptcy courts, the newspaper said.

Simmons discounted the move.

“In response to recent rumours … Simmons wants to reiterate that it is not contemplating any alternate bids in China or elsewhere nor has Simmons authorised any agent in China to solicit any such bids,” the report quoted William S. Creekmuir, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Simmons, as saying in a written response to questions.

In November, Simmons, maker of the Beautyrest mattress and other bedding products, filed for bankruptcy protection and said it expects to be sold to two buyers in a transaction valued at roughly $760 million.

The Journal report said details of the pre-packaged reorganisation plan, designed to reduce the company’s debt $1 billion by more than half, were translated into Chinese and posted on the website of a government-owned registry in the southern city of Guangzhou where large corporate and government assets are put on sale.

The idea was to encourage potential Chinese bidders to offer Simmons creditors a better deal than the one presented to the bankruptcy court, and generate fees for themselves if such a bid were to proceed, the report said, citing people involved. (Editing by Jerry Norton)