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Marine Log

February 3, 2008

Nichols Brothers has a new owner

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders of Whidbey Island, Wash, is to start rehiring workers "immediately," according to press reports.

Nichols Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November.

On Friday, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved the $9.15 million sale of the company's assets to Ice Flow LLC, which is backed by Treadstone Capital Management, L.P., of Dallas, Whose core investments are "directed toward economic dislocations caused by financial market conditions, misunderstood assets and out-of-favor companies and properties."

Ice Floe is reportedly retaining Matt Nichols as CEO of the shipbuilder. According to the Whidbey News Times, Ice Floe didn't get didn't get the shipyard land, which Matt Nichols and his wife Cassie still own, and won't have to contend with the lawsuits brought against the company and that precipitated its financial crisis.

In its Chapter 11 financing, Nichols said it couldn't borrow money to finance its operations because of the lawsuits. Now, plaintiffs will have to proceed against the bankrupt Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, Inc. and not against the "new" Nichols Brothers.

Under its new ownership, Nichols Brothers is expected to try to requalify to participate in upcoming Washington State Ferries newbuilding programs.

Nichols Brothers had prequalified to participate in Washington State's challenged plan to build a class of up to 144-vehicle ferries. and is likely to wish to bid on ferries currently under design at Elliott Bay Design group to serve WSF's Port Townsend-Keystone, previously served by the now retired Steel Electric class.

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