Source: RPM close to deal
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Richard Petty Motorsports agreed Monday night to a deal that would restructure the debt of the company, a source close to the situation told ESPN.com on Tuesday.
According to the source, the deal is subject to final signatures and that 10 of the 11 banks involved in the restructuring have agreed to terms.
This comes on the heels of a report that RPM, owned by George Gillett, has been in default on a loan of about $90 million since February. The source said the loan is closer to $70 million and that it was allowed to lapse with the hope that it would provide leverage with the banks to restructure.
Had the banks opted to foreclose on the loan they could have taken possession of team assets and some revenue from sponsors, but none of Gillett's personal assets.
Gillett would not comment on specifics of the deal but said RPM has no plans of going under.
"I don't think we'll just survive, we'll thrive," Gillett said.
According to a report by ESPN.com's Marty Smith, the team will have to survive without its top name driver, Kasey Kahne, who will move into the No. 5 car at Hendrick Motorsports next season.
"I know that he's a helluva nice young man and I hope we can work something out," Gillett said. "If we can't life will continue. I'm sure he'll go with a really good team and he'll have a really good future."
Gillett purchased then-Evernham Motorsports in 2007. He merged with Petty Enterprises late in 2008 and renamed the organization Richard Petty Motorsports. The company merged with Yates Racing before this season and continued Yates' alliance with Roush Fenway Racing.
Gillett said RPM is operating in the black and making a profit. He said debt incurred over the past few years is the result of trying to survive in a tough economy that saw RPM lose financial support from Chrysler, forcing the move to Ford, and sponsors.
"When you look at some of the curveballs thrown at us they're substantial," Gillett said. "Yet we've overcome them. We've overcome the loss of all that revenue from sponsors and Chrysler.
"Based on everything I know our intention is to restructure the debt, enter into an agreement with banks and buy out the debt with new capital that our family would put into and end up with a company that may end up a few million in debt but end up with a company that is fundamentally debt-free," he said.
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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