Federal bankruptcy court fields bids

The bankruptcy auction for Blockbuster Entertainment got underway in Gotham on Monday as teams of lawyers and bankers began to huddle privately to decide the fate of the beleaguered vid chain.

A Blockbuster spokesman said it could be Tuesday before a winning bidder is named, with bids and counter-bids coming near the end of the process. Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland would then have to approve the sale in a separate hearing scheduled for Thursday.

It was still not clear Monday the total number of interested bidders. Besides an initial $29O million bid from Blockuster senior creditor and hedge fund Monarch Alternative Capital, to create a floor for future bidding, initial offers have also been made by activist shareholder Carl Icahn, a senior creditor as well, and Charlie Ergen’s Dish Network.

Shortly before 10 on Monday, lawyers and bankers began pouring into the 112-year-old Beaux Arts-style Customs House in lower Manhattan that now is home to a federal bankruptcy court. Meetings began to be held in private offices.

Representatives for the major studios, Blockbuster creditors who had opposed a bankruptcy sale, were said to be among those in the meetings.

The studios had charged that such a sale would favor a select group of creditors to to the detriment of others.

The retail chain, which still operates about 2,400 stores and has faced fierce competition in recent years from the likes of Netflix, Amazon and kiosk retailer Redbox, went into Chapter 11 in September.

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