Spokane Journal of Business

Metropolitan Mortgage, Summit trusts make fourth payment

Combined distributions since entities were formed now exceeds $112 million

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Trusts established to try to recoup some of the huge amount of money that investors had tied up in Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co. and Summit Securities Inc. before those affiliated companies here shut down eight years ago have made a fourth cash distribution.

Metropolitan creditors received a distribution equal to 1.99 percent of their total individual claims, or just under 2 cents for each dollar of debt, said Maggie Lyons, trustee and plan administrator, in a letter dated Dec. 12 that accompanied the checks. Summit creditors, meanwhile, received the equivalent of 1.72 percent of their total claims, or slightly more than 1 1/2 cents for each dollar of debt, the letter said.

To date, a total of $88.7 million, or a little over 23 percent of total claims, has been distributed to Metropolitan creditors since the trusts were formed six years ago, the letter said. A total of about $23.4 million, or about 15.5 percent of total claims, has been distributed to Summit creditors, bringing the combined total disbursement to $112.1 million.

"The amount and timing of distributions to investors continues to depend on the ability of the trusts to convert assets to cash," Lyons said in the letter. "The remaining significant assets of the trusts consist primarily of direct interests in commercial real estate owned by Old Standard Life Insurance Co. (OSL), which is in liquidation proceedings under the control of the Idaho Director of Insurance.

She said, "OSL faces obstacles in liquidating its real estate that are virtually identical to those that are faced by the trusts. The timing and amount of distributions from OSL to the trusts are under the control of the Idaho Director of insurance, and it appears that the OSL liquidation will likely last through 2015."

The total recovery for Metropolitan creditors now is projected to be 33 percent of their investment, based on them receiving anticipated additional distributions equal to about 9 percent of their investment, the letter says.

Summit creditors, whose remaining recovery is based almost exclusively on Summit's equity in OSL, are expected to receive additional distributions of about 9 percent. However, that represents a downward adjustment from earlier estimates, due to "continuing difficulties in selling real estate assets in today's market," and projections that the market will remain depressed for an extended period, the letter said.

Lyons said, "We continue to make every effort to realize fair value for the remaining assets as quickly as possible and to distribute cash when sufficient funds are available." She added, though, that the trusts probably won't make another distribution until the commercial real estate market improves significantly.

In all, the Metropolitan Creditors' Trust and Summit Creditors' Trust have disbursed money to more than 12,000 creditors.

Many investors had their life savings wiped out and hundreds of employees lost their jobs when the $2 billion-plus Metropolitan conglomerate, widely regarded for many years as a safe investment option, collapsed. Its demise was a local precursor to the financial industry crisis that swept the country a few years later.

The Metropolitan and Summit trusts were established following a bankruptcy reorganization plan confirmation in early 2006. The trusts were scheduled to be terminated in February 2011, but that was based on the assumption that all significant assets would be liquidated by then. The liquidation process has been slowed by a number of factors, including the number and complexity of the real estate holdings and related contracts, as well as the sharp decline in real estate values and demand caused by the recession. For those reasons, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved a requested five-year extension under which the trusts now will terminate on Feb. 11, 2016.

Kim Crompton
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