Yesterday, November 29, Niner announced in a BRAIN article
that it had filed for protection under chapter 11 bankruptcy rules as a way to streamline the sale and transition of Niner to a Colorado investment consortium. Under Chapter 11, the court will package Niner's assets and debt, which are expected to be sold to Columbia Basin Partners as early as January, 2018.
Niner posted assets of 9.8 million and liabilities at 7.9 million, which supports Co-Founder and major shareholder Chris Sugai's statement that Niner was solvent, but lacked the capital to invest in the marketing and research and development needed to remain competitive. Reportedly, Sugai had been seeking an outside investor to facilitate that, which led to negotiations with Columbia Basin Partners.
Niner announced earlier this month, also in BRAIN, that the first name in 29-inch wheels would be sold to a Colorado based investment group made up of Niner enthusiasts who both understand and support the company's mission statement. "Our capable team remains intact." Said Chris Sugai. "That's important. Everyone here will continue to support Niner's mission of supporting trails everywhere, of building the riding stoke, and of creating incredible cycling products for riders who love to hit the dirt." Sugai said he will continue to play an active role in the day to day affairs of the company.What Does this Mean to Niner Fans?
Sugai told PB in a phone conversation today that, during the reorganization period, Niner's staff will be working as usual, shipping orders, supporting customers and taking care of warranty issues. Niner will also be fulfilling its commitments to dealers here and abroad. Sugai anticipates the hand-off to the new owners will be seamless. Perhaps more important to Sugai, was that his 31 employees will remain with Niner. Chis said that he reacted to Niner's situation early on to help ensure that the transition could take place without devastating layoffs.
Niner has been more than a bike brand. Everyone rides, and under Sugai's leadership, they have been a strong supporter of IMBA and of a number of events, as a way of re-investing in the sport. We are told that Niner's new owners are avid riders as well. If all goes to plan, the brand will have a shot at returning to strength. We wish them well.