News Press:By Pratish Narayanan
BANGALORE, July 8 (Reuters) - U.S. television set and digital camera maker Syntax-Brillian Corp (BRLC.O: Quote, Profile, Research) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday after a year of weak sales, litigation, executive changes, accounting problems and liquidity concerns.
The seller of the Olevia brand of LCD TVs, formed with the November 30, 2005 merger of Syntax Groups and Brillian Corp, sought protection from creditors with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Delaware, court papers show.
Tempe, Arizona-based Syntax-Brillian also entered into a deal to sell certain of its assets to a newly created company called Olevia International Group LLC, which has agreed to assume $60 million of its secured debt.
The company, which is negotiating with lenders to secure financing, has stopped operations in Tempe and is left with about eight employees there, including its finance chief, general counsel and finance staff.
Court papers listed home appliance maker Taiwan Kolin Co (1606.TW: Quote, Profile, Research) and affiliates as the only entity owning more than 5 percent of Syntax-Brillian's voting shares.
Among its creditors are Singapore-based WesTech Electronics Ltd (WTEH.SI: Quote, Profile, Research), Taiwan's Compal Electronics (2324.TW: Quote, Profile, Research), cable sports network ESPN Inc and Taiwan's Digimedia Technology Co.
Syntax-Brillian's total assets were about $175.7 million, against total debts of about $259.4 million, as of the beginning of June this year, court papers showed.
The company said its business had eroded in the face of defaults under a lending agreement, a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission enquiry and the loss of confidence of suppliers, vendors and employees.
Syntax-Brillian, whose shares have crashed more than 91 percent over the past year, tried to raise capital, refinance debt and restructure its business -- all of which proved impossible, according to court papers.
The company said on Tuesday Michael Garnreiter is the sole remaining member of its board of directors. Gregory Rayburn, who became interim CEO after the company fired James Ching Hua Li earlier this month, will remain in the position.
The Chapter 11 filing includes all of the company's units except digital camera unit Vivitar, which it plans to sell.
Shares of the company closed at 46 cents on Monday on Nasdaq. (Editing by Rory Channing and Sue Thomas)