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Value America: A bankruptcy case study

    Value America, which shut its virtual doors in August, is trying to re-make itself as an e-services company in the wake of bankruptcy.

    The company filed for Chapter 11 after becoming one of the more prominent e-retailer flameouts.

    Tyler Andrew, director of communications for Value America, and one of the 70 employees remaining out of 275, said the company still needs "several millions of dollars," from an investor to re-emerge as an e-services business. The investment also needs to be approved by the creditor's committee, which may designate a percentage of it to pay off the company's debts.

    Though Andrew couldn't detail how much the company owes, a couple of its biggest creditors are Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HWP), owed $840,000, and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), owed $59,933.

    He's confident the company can hold on to its employees. Of those that remain, 50 percent are part of the company's technical systems group, and all have had payment of their salaries approved by the court. Salaries for the companies top 5 executives, however, have not been approved.

    According to the first official meetings with creditors and legal counsels, it has been determined that the company has $63.6 million in assets, and $22.6 million in liabilities. Its top assets are computer systems and employees, Andrew said.

    As to the issue of customer lists, "we haven't been approved by the courts to sell it yet. We'll try, if we can, to sell it to someone with the same type of services -- we're not selling it off to just anyone."

    If Value America can re-emerge, it will set a unique precedent that could prove skeptics wrong. "When (dot-coms) are more mature, there will be successful reorganizations," Richard Mikels, chairman of the bankruptcy practice at Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC, predicted. "Common law tends to change with the times."


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