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Empire Land files for bankruptcy protection

April 29, 2008|From Bloomberg News

Empire Land, an Ontario-based land development company, has filed for bankruptcy protection, joining at least a dozen home builders that sought protection from creditors in the last 10 months as home sales and prices slumped.

"A severe tightening or loss of financing for the entitling and development of land, and the resulting pressures that were placed on the debtors' cash flows," helped prompt the bankruptcy filing, Chief Financial Officer Neil Miller said in a statement filed Friday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside.

The closely held company listed assets and debt of $100 million to $500 million in its filing and asked for more time from the court to provide specific financial information. Developers including Tousa Inc., Levitt & Sons and Kimball Hill Inc. have sought bankruptcy protection since June, hurt by the housing crisis.

Empire Land and its affiliates build so-called master-planned communities, large-scale projects that include commercial buildings and schools, in California and Arizona. Empire Land had assets with a book value of about $106.4 million as of Jan. 31, according to the court papers.

Empire Land agreed to turn over its interest in a partially completed community in Palmdale to the secured lender on the project, Cadim Note Inc., to help reduce debt. Empire Land will get a release from the lender and cut about $100 million in liabilities.

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