Tilton Takes the Stand to Press for a Delay in Asset Sale

  • Current auction terms would ‘chill’ interest, judge is told
  • Tilton says auction is ‘sham’ designed to benefit insurer

Lynn Tilton took the witness stand in a Manhattan courtroom and urged a judge to maintain a freeze on the sale of assets in one of her former investment funds so she can renegotiate the terms of the auction to get more bidders and a bigger recovery for investors.

Tilton, the founder of Patriarch Partners LLC, won a temporary halt to the auction last month after she sued the trustee of the Zohar I distressed loan fund. She argued that the planned sale was a sham structured to benefit MBIA Inc., the insurer that holds a $149 million claim on the collateral.

As currently structured, the auction would "chill" interest and frighten possible bidders for the collateral because it wouldn’t give them enough time for research, she said. The sale involves more than 100 financial assets and more than 50 entities in more than 20 industries, Tilton told U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff on Monday.

"The terms would scare away anyone who would want to bid for just one of the companies," Tilton said at the hearing. Rakoff said he will rule on her request by Oct. 17.

The litigation comes in the midst of Tilton’s fight with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which filed an administrative complaint in 2015 accusing her of misleading investors about the value of risk pools of corporate loans and overcharging investors on fees.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month refused to halt the SEC’s case against Tilton, rejecting her request to halt the case until it decides on the constitutionality of the agency’s use of in-house judges.

A Delaware judge still must decide whether Tilton has to turn over more files to the new managers of some of the Zohar funds. Patriarch Partners agreed last year to step down as overseer of three distressed-loan funds, one of which the firm had sought to force into bankruptcy. The funds’ new managers accused Tilton of failing to turn over files about assets used as collateral in deals.

The case is Patriarch Partners XV LLC v U.S. Bank National Association, 16-cv-07128, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan.)

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