Business

Brookfield fund buys bathroom-fixtures company

Maxx Inc., a Quebec bathroom equipment and spa company taken private by pension funds and other investors in 2004, has sold most of its assets to a fund managed by Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

A Quebec bathroom equipment and spa company taken private by pension funds and other investors in 2004 has sold most of its assets to a fund managed by Brookfield Asset Management Inc., Maax Corp. said Thursday.

The Montreal-based company had been badly hurt by the decline in the U.S. housing market.

Maax said the Brookfield unit was buying the company for the amount of its debt and trade obligations.

The buyers in 2004 included J.W. Childs Associates L.P. of Boston, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) and Borealis Capital Corp., a firm owned by OMERS, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Toronto businessman Lawrence Tanenbaum.

They paid $22.50 for each Maax share, a 22-per-cent premium to the $18.51 the stock closed at the day before the company put itself up sale in September 2003.

No dollar figure was announced for the sale but Brookfield will acquire Maax's assets for the amount owed under the senior security credit facility, revised in January to $225 million, plus a $50-million credit line. It will also assume its obligations to customers and suppliers.

Maax said the deal with Brookfield Bridge Lending Fund will also keep the company in business and ensure the jobs of "substantially all" of its more than 2,000 employees.

"It preserves the MAAX business and ensures its continuance as a successful competitor in the marketplace,"  Paul Golden, president and CEO, said in a statement.

The sale will be done through the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, used to protect companies from creditors while they restructure.

Maax in May said sales in the fiscal year ended Feb. 29, 2008 fell 11.8 per cent to $375.5 million, while operating losses increased by $60.2 million to $104.8 million.

The loss includes a non-cash charge $99.4 million incurred on goodwill and trademarks.

Brookfield Bridge Lending Fund provides companies with short-term capital. It's managed by Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

With files from the Canadian Press

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