Troubled wireless company Lightsquared filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revoked its license to operate its wireless spectrum due to concerns that it would interfere with global positioning services (GPS). The decision threw the company into a tailspin and ignited one of the most complex and contested bankruptcies in recent history.
After five months of negotiations between Lightsquared’s owner, Harbinger Capital Partners, and the company’s creditors, a plan had been agreed to that would satisfy some creditors by handing over Lightsquared’s still-valuable spectrum assets. However, other creditors complained because the plan would make it even more difficult to get FCC approval, dooming Lightsquared to certain death.
As a result of the stymied negotiations, Judge Shelley Chapman floated the idea of converting the case to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy as a first step in “winding down” Lightsquared and dividing and distributing its assets. Lightsquared representatives immediately asked for more time and pledged to engage in sincere mediation proceedings in an attempt to salvage the company’s assets and preserve the hundreds of jobs the company currently offers.
The court took a poll of Lightsquared’s creditors and ultimately pushed the bankruptcy confirmation hearing date back from October 20th to November 10th in an effort to give all parties time to re-open mediation proceedings. Judge Chapman was also severely critical of Harbinger Capital, accusing it of trying to “hijack” the proceedings by constantly introducing revised restructuring plans that invalidated agreements reached in mediation.