Restaurant Enterprises Group Files Preset Chapter 11 Plan : Recapitalization: The plan should have no effect on El Torito, Coco's and Carrows eateries, a company official explains.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Restaurant Enterprises Group, which operates the El Torito, Coco's and Carrows eateries, on Tuesday filed a prepackaged Chapter 11 plan in U.S. Bankruptcy Court as part of an ongoing recapitalization.

The plan is supported by all of the Irvine-based restaurant company's creditors. REG listed $374.5 million in assets and $564.7 million in liabilities. Of that debt, $379.9 million is owed to secured creditors--including W.R. Grace & Co., which owned most of REG's outstanding shares and was also the company's single largest creditor--and $185.8 million is held by unsecured creditors.

"There were no surprises whatsoever in the filing," said REG Chief Financial Officer Mike Casey. "All of this was anticipated in our recent Securities and Exchange Commission (securities offering) filing."

A bankruptcy court judge approved several motions Tuesday to allow REG to continue paying its suppliers. "This filing should have no effect whatsoever on our restaurant operations," Casey said.

REG is in the middle of a planned recapitalization that is designed to eliminate remnants of $737 million in debt that the company accrued during a 1980s leveraged buyout.

As part of the plan, two investment groups, New York-based Apollo Advisors L.P. and Green Equity Partners L.P. will pump $95 million into the company. San Diego-based Foodmaker Inc.--owner of the Jack In The Box fast-food restaurants--will sell its Chi-Chi's Mexican-style restaurant chain to REG for $270 million and also invest $65 million in REG.

The Irvine-based company plans to use funds generated by a securities offering to buy Chi-Chi's.

REG's creditors earlier agreed to support the recapitalization plan, which included the prepackaged bankruptcy filing. REG and its creditors will explain the bankruptcy filing to a judge during a Jan. 7 hearing, Casey said.

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