While apparel retailer J.C. Penney (JCPN.Q) may have bought itself a little time with its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, a countdown is still looming on its planned exit from Chapter 11 in November. As it works to avoid liquidation, the company is reopening more than 150 of its outlets this week, along with moving forward with its plans to put some of its properties into a real-estate investment trust, or REIT.
A strict timetable governs J.C. Penney's efforts to dodge liquidation. It must file a business plan detailing its restructuring and bankruptcy exit in June, then use the plan to successfully obtain $225 million in debtor-in-financing loans by July 14. If it fails to obtain the financing, liquidation proceedings will begin around August 15.
Improving its financial position is an obvious step toward convincing lenders of its Renewal Plan's viability, giving urgency to its reopening schedule. It is opening dozens of stores today in four states, including Florida, Ohio, Indiana, and Texas. Other states where reopening has already occurred or will happen this week include Rhode Island, Georgia, Kansas, Arkansas, and Colorado. The total will reach 153 locations by Friday. The outlets are providing both contactless in-store payment and contactless curbside pickup of online orders.
Additionally, J.C. Penney is moving to create an REIT that will incorporate some or all of its 387 company-owned locations. The real-estate trust will then lease the real estate to the other half of the company, the so-called "new J.C. Penney." As much as a 35% stake in the REIT might be sold to an outside investor, and some analysts remain dubious that creating the REIT will significantly help Penney's position.