Wilmington, Del. — Two CE companies, one in bankruptcy and the other about to enter it, are both in negotiations to be acquired.
Simplexity, which operated online mobile phone stores for Walmart, Target, RadioShack, Sears and others before suddenly shutting down this month, is looking to sell off its assets, ostensibly to Walmart.
According to filings with the federal bankruptcy court here, the company has entered into a stalking horse agreement with the discount chain, which sets a minimum purchase price of $10 million for its intellectual property and e-commerce platform.
Simplexity filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 16, citing insufficient liquidity and liabilities of between $50 million and $100 million. It began shopping itself around earlier this year before pulling the plug on operations. The shutdown left hundreds of e-tailers without an immediate means to sell and activate postpaid cellphones online, including 15 of the top 20 retail sites, and left dozens of creditors holding the bag, including Sprint (owed $7 million), mobile distributors Brightstar ($5.9 million) and Reliance Communications ($2.9 million), and Verizon Wireless ($1.2 million).
A buyout by Walmart would bring the retailer’s online mobile sales function in-house while forcing competitors to find an alternative for web-based sales and activations. In the meantime, major retailers including Target and RadioShack continue to direct online phone shoppers to their local stores.
Separately, Brookstone, the novelty tech and executive giftware chain, said it may be acquired by Spencer, a retailer of T-shirts, Halloween costumes and gag accessories. According to published reports, the companies have been working on a $120 million deal for several weeks that could include a pre-negotiated Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.
Under the plan, Brookstone’s website and 240 mall and airport stores would continue to operate under that brand and staffing would remain intact. The bankruptcy filing could come as soon as this weekend.