Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, the wealthiest owner in the NFL, filed his real estate development company out of business on Wednesday night following the scuttled team headquarters project in Rock Hill, SC
In a Chapter 11 filing in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, Tepper’s GT Real Estate Holdings LLC said it had liabilities between $100 million and $500 million, a similar range for assets, and up to 49 creditors.
The move would allow Tepper’s GT Real Estate Holdings LLC, which is a separate entity separate from the team, to begin a court-ordered process to pay creditors, largely contractors who worked on the site that was to be the new home and practice facility of the Panthers.
In a statement, GT Real Estate (GTRE) said it has received a $20 million funding commitment from DT Sports Holding, LLC, subject to court approval, which will allow the company to fund a process to address its legitimate claims of creditors, as well as to preserve, protect and enhance the Rock Hill site for the benefit of all stakeholders.
“Over the past few weeks, GTRE has been faced with a variety of claims, some valid and some not, from suppliers, contractors and other third parties, including York County SC GTRE is taking this action to ensure that legitimate claims are dealt with as fairly and expeditiously as possible in a court-supervised process and to complete the orderly and safe liquidation of the project. GTRE intends to resolve its legitimate obligations.
It’s the latest domino to fall in the shock disbandment of a planned $800 million project that the Panthers say would bring jobs and businesses such as retail stores, restaurants and a hotel to Rock Hill, a high school football home located 25 miles south of the Panthers. ‘ existing headquarters at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
At a press conference in April, his first in more than a year, Tepper repeatedly declined to answer questions related to Rock Hill.
An NFL spokesperson said he doesn’t anticipate any issues with Tepper’s case.
“GTRE is not part of the club’s shareholding group,” the spokesperson said. “GTRE does not own any football-related assets, and no football-related assets have been pledged in any way for costs incurred to date or for any remaining obligations.”
The Chapter 11 filing lists contractor Mascaro/Barton Malow as the largest creditor, with an unsecured claim of $26,809,900, which the document notes is disputed. The second largest claim is also in dispute, $20 million from York County, South Carolina, which is listed as unsecured. And architect Populous’s unsecured claim of $784,534 is also listed as disputed.
The league has very conservative financial rules, although they apparently do not apply to a corporate bankruptcy filing by an owner with no legal connection to the team. GT Real Estate is registered in North Carolina.
Its 2022 annual report filed with the Secretary of State lists Tepper as the sole officer, with no mention of the team or its sports holding company. Its 2019 organizational registration filed with the state was signed by Jeffrey Kaplan, an executive at Tepper’s hedge fund firm.
But the league could be concerned about the image of its wealthiest owner using the bankruptcy code to avoid paying, at least in full, the contractors he hired, put to work and then didn’t. necessary.
“In the vein of, you know, Donald Trump and (Frank) McCourt filing and bankrupting the Dodgers and various other billionaires, bankrupting their businesses, it’s just something they can do without having suffer any personal repercussions if they do it right,” said Zev Shechtman, bankruptcy attorney at Danning, Gill, Israel & Krasnoff.
Just because Tepper is a multi-billionaire doesn’t mean he can’t bankrupt one of his companies. Generally, an officer of a company would not be personally liable for his debts, although this does not prevent creditors from taking legal action against him.
“In order to file for bankruptcy, eligibility has no particular restrictions, like, you don’t need to be in default or insolvent,” Shechtman said. “Or, you know, even though you don’t need to have a specific problem to be eligible for bankruptcy, you just have to file a petition to file for bankruptcy.
“Being a wealthy business owner he has done nothing wrong by just being a wealthy business owner or putting the business out of business if the business is otherwise eligible for bankruptcy, why should- he have a personal responsibility?”
Tepper broke his agreement with the city of Rock Hill in April, walking away from an ambitious project that was to be completed in 2023. The Panthers announced in March that they were suspending construction of the facility after Rock Hill n issued $225 million in bonds to pay for public infrastructure associated with the project.
Tepper, the Forbes-listed hedge fund manager with a net worth of $16.7 billion, has invested more than $175 million in the project. The state-of-the-art headquarters had already taken shape and can be seen from Interstate 77, along with mounds of red dirt and work on a new interstate interchange.
In April, a spokesperson for GT Real Estate Holdings said in a statement that Rock Hill became delinquent on its infrastructure bonds in early 2021. Just over a year later, following this which GTRE called “persistent efforts” to goad the city into getting the public money. , Tepper’s company told Rock Hill that it had 30 days left or the team would move on.
“It is regrettable that some have recently decided to carry out a misguided and destructive public relations campaign to cover up their failures,” the GTRE spokesperson said in the statement.
In the meantime, the Panthers will retain their headquarters and practice grounds at Bank of America Stadium, one of the NFL’s oldest venues. Tepper said the team recently conducted a feasibility study to see what improvements would be needed if the Panthers decided to continue playing there in the short term. The team will continue to hold their training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC
(Photo: Griffin Zetterberg/USA Today)