Bankruptcy judge OKs loan deal for energy-drink maker


Bankruptcy Judge Mike Nakagawa is giving energy-drink maker Xyience Inc. of Las Vegas approval for a fresh transfusion of cash in hopes the company can continue operations and be sold for the benefit of creditors.

The judge approved a $1.6 million loan and a marketing agreement for use of the Ultimate Fighting Championship logo on Xenergy, Xyience's energy drink.

Xyience attorney Laurel Davis expressed cautious optimism late Tuesday, noting that one potential buyer was sitting in the audience during the bankruptcy court hearing.

Omer Sattar, president and chief operating officer of Xyience, declined to identify the buyer, but he also was upbeat about the ruling.

"We're excited. We're optimistic. The process has gone well," Sattar said. "We think we can continue to build the brand going forward."

Attorneys for three unsecured creditors and stockholders of Xyience objected, saying that the decision would benefit primarily Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta.

The Fertittas own the UFC, which broadcasts mixed martial arts contests on television. Xenergy has been sponsoring the UFC.

The Fertitta brothers also own Zyen, which earlier made a $1 million emergency loan to Xyience. Zyen offered to increase the loan amount to $2.6 million, and the bankruptcy judge approved the additional sum on Tuesday.

Xyience, which has offices at 4572 W. Hacienda Ave., employs 30 workers. The company markets and distributes the energy drink Xenergy at 24,000 convenience stores and grocery stores.

The energy drink maker filed for bankruptcy court protection in January under Chapter 11, listing $42.3 million in liabilities and $5.3 million in assets.

At the bankruptcy hearing Tuesday, Xyience attorney Davis described the marketing and loan proposals as do or die matters for her client.

Xyience said it needed additional cash so it can keep the drink on the shelves of convenience and grocery stores.

Without the marketing agreement, Xyience would be forced to discard $8 million in inventory with the UFC logo, Davis said.

Without the loan, Xyience would be unable to continue operations while looking for a buyer, she said.

"We're at a precipice," Davis said. "We simply must move forward with this matter today or the business is at risk."

Attorneys for three unsecured creditors and some Xyience stockholders objected to the financing and marketing agreements, which they said unfairly benefited the Fertittas and companies controlled by the Fertittas. The Fertittas control Zyen, the company making the loan, and Zuffa Marketing, the company which signed Xyience as a sponsor for the UFC fights. Nakagawa acknowledged that the Fertitta companies drove "hard bargains," but the judge saw no alternative, other than to shut down the energy-drink maker.

Attorneys for three unsecured creditors claimed that the deals were part of a "lend to own" strategy pursued by the Fertittas.

Contact reporter John G. Edwards at jedwards@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0420.

 

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