By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Evergreen files for bankruptcy

The air cargo carrier, principal remaining subsidiary of Evergreen International Aviation, was joined in the filing by its parent company and fellow subsidiaries Evergreen Aviation Ground Logistics Enterprise, Evergreen Trade, Evergreen Defense & Security Services, Evergreen Systems Logistics and Supertanker Services. A number of other subsidiaries, including Evergreen Agricultural Enterprises, Evergreen Vintage Aircraft, Evergreen Holdings, Evergreen Ventures, Ventures Holding and Evergreen Aircraft Sales and Leasing, were not listed.

The parties listed assets of $10 million to $50 million and liabilities of $100 million to $500 million. They stated in the petition, “After any exempt property is excluded and administrative expenses are paid, there will be no funds available for distribution to unsecured creditors,” estimated to number 1,000 to 5,000.

Evergreen International Airlines ceased operations at the end of November on 30 days notice. Evergreen Aviation Ground Logistics Enterprises, known as EAGLE, followed suit, without any advance notice, at midnight Sunday, Dec. 29.

EAGLE provided baggage and cargo handling services at airports in about three-dozen major American cities, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, Atlanta and Miami. Its clients included Lufthansa, Air France, Singapore Airlines, United Parcel Service and the U.S. Postal Service. It notified its roster of airports and carriers it was ceasing operations immediately.

The parties attached a 163-page list of creditors to the bankruptcy petition.

They include Ventures Holding, owned by Evergreen founder Del Smith, and Erickson Air-Crane, recent purchaser of EIA’s Evergreen Helicopters subsidiary. They also include several state tax departments, the federal Securities and Exchange Commission and company executives Michael Hines and Blythe Berselli.

However, some former employees pressing unpaid wage claims aren’t listed. Neither is the Air Line Pilots Association pension fund, even though it has twice been awarded multi-million judgments that remain unpaid.

The petition to force Evergreen’s air cargo subsidiary into involuntary Chapter 7 liquidation was filed by four small New York creditors — a trio of hotels and a snow removal company. They said they were taking the action because news accounts indicated the company was selling off assets to satisfy big creditors and they feared they would end up unpaid.

They were subsequently joined by a pair of former employees who have a class-action lawsuit pending in Oregon against the parent Evergreen International Aviation and several of its subsidiaries. They maintain back pay owed to former employees should be given precedence in any distribution of company assets.

At the time, Smith indicated he felt Chapter 11, under which companies reorganize rather than liquidate, would be more appropriate. However, the filing ultimately came under Chapter 7.

The company’s remaining assets apparently include an array of land and buildings on Highway 18. They lie across the highway from Smith’s $150 million Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum complex, whose separate nonprofit status affords it a measure of protection.

The Yamhill County Assessor’s Office lists Evergreen International Aviation as the owner of six parcels occupied by office buildings, hangars and other facilities. It lists subsidiaries Ventures Holding and Evergreen Holdings as the owners of one each.

The office lists real market values of $17.7 million for the Evergreen International Aviation tracts, $3.9 million for the Ventures Holding tract and $7.6 million for the Evergreen Holdings tract. However, recent legal actions have led to the filing of liens against some land holdings of Smith and arms of his corporate network, so their current net value may be reduced.

Evergreen’s for-profit Vintage Aircraft subsidiary is the listed owner of about $100 million of the land and buildings in the $150 million museum complex on the north side of the highway. The rest is registered under the name of the nonprofit Michael King Smith Foundation.

Evergreen Vintage Aircraft also owns at least 15 of the planes on display in the air museum.

Evergreen Holdings owns two planes on exhibit at the museum and has placed both up for sale, at least two other planes have been claimed by creditors as collateral against unpaid loans, and Evergreen still has one final payment to make on the museum’s Spruce Goose centerpiec. However, both Smith and museum chief Larry Wood have repeatedly vouched for the museum’s ongoing viability.

Calls to the corporate side Thursday disconnected without going to voice mail. A cell number formerly used by Hines in his capacity as CEO of the air cargo company was no longer in service.

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