Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, the richest owner in the NFL, on Wednesday night put his real estate developer into bankruptcy after the team’s failed headquarters project in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
In a Chapter 11 filing in Delaware federal bankruptcy court, Tepper’s GT Real Estate Holdings LLC said it has liabilities of between $100 million and $500 million, a similar range of assets and as many as 49 creditors.
The move would allow Tepper’s GT Real Estate Holdings LLC, a separate entity separate from the team, to begin a court-ordered process to pay creditors, most of whom were contractors who were working on the site that was to be the new home and practice of the Panthers facility.
A statement from GTRE said: “In recent weeks, the GTRE has faced various claims, some valid and some invalid, from sellers, contractors and other third parties, including York County, SC GTRE is taking this action to ensure that legitimate claims are treated as fairly as possible. and speed under court-supervised process, achieve orderly and safe de-escalation of the project. GTRE intends to resolve its legitimate obligations.”
It’s the latest domino to fall into a stark solution to a planned $800 million project that the Panthers said will bring jobs and businesses — such as retail stores, restaurants and a hotel — to Rock Hill, the high school football stronghold located 25 miles south of the Panthers’ current headquarters at Bank Stadium. of America in Charlotte.
During a press conference in April — his first in more than a year — Tepper repeatedly refused to answer questions about Rock Hill.
The NFL could not be reached for comment.
The league has very conservative financial rules, although it is unclear whether they would apply to a bankruptcy filing by an owner company not legally affiliated with the team. GT Real Estate is registered in North Carolina.
His 2022 annual report to the Secretary of State lists Tepper as the sole officer, without mentioning the team or its sports holding company. The 2019 regulatory filing to the state was signed by Jeffrey Kaplan, CEO at Tepper’s hedge fund company.
But the university may be concerned about the image of its wealthier owner using bankruptcy law to avoid paying, at least in full, to contractors it hired, worked, and then was not needed to.
“In the context of, you know, Donald Trump and (Frank) McCourt, who have brought the Dodgers family and many other billionaires into bankruptcy, putting their companies in bankruptcy, and that’s just something they can do without having to try any In Dunning, Gill, Israel, and Krasnov: “Personal Consequences if they do it right.”
Just because Tepper is a billionaire multiple times doesn’t mean he can’t put one of his companies into bankruptcy. Generally, a company employee will not be personally liable for its debts, although that may not prevent creditors from filing a legal case against him.
“In order to file for bankruptcy, eligibility does not have any particular restrictions, like, you don’t have to be in default or insolvent,” Shechtman said. “Or, you know, until you don’t have a particular problem to be eligible for bankruptcy, you just have to file a petition to file for bankruptcy.
“Being a wealthy owner of a corporation, he has done nothing wrong by being a wealthy owner of a corporation or going bankrupt if the corporation is otherwise entitled to bankruptcy, why should he be personally liable?”
Tipper cut his agreement with the city of Rock Hill in April, moving away from an ambitious project that was expected to be completed in 2023. The Panthers announced in March that they had temporarily halted construction at the facility after Rock Hill failed to issue $225 million in bonds to pay for associated public infrastructure costs. by the project.
Tepper, a hedge fund manager listed by Forbes with a net worth of $16.7 billion, has invested more than $175 million in the venture. The advanced headquarters has already been formed, visible from Interstate 77, along with mounds of red dirt and working on a new interstate interchange.
In April, a spokesperson for GT Real Estate Holdings said in a statement that Rock Hill became behind on its infrastructure bonds in early 2021. Just over a year later — following what GTRE called “ongoing efforts” urging the city for public money Tepper tells Rock Hill they have 30 days or the team will continue.
“It is unfortunate that some have recently decided to conduct a misleading and destructive PR campaign to hide their failures,” a GTRE spokesperson said in the statement.
In the meantime, the Panthers will retain their headquarters and training grounds at Bank of America Stadium, one of the oldest NFL stadiums. Tepper said the team recently conducted a feasibility study to see what improvements would be necessary if the Panthers decided to continue playing there in the short term. The team will continue to set up its training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina
(Photo: Griffin Zetterberg / USA Today)