Wednesday, April 30, 2003

ATLANTA — A group of bond holders who were owed money by Graham-Field Health Products purchased the company at auction April 9 for $28 million. Invacare, which tendered a $25 million bid, was the only other entity to make a play for the hard-luck manufacturer and distributor of medical equipment and supplies.

The winning bidders were expected to close on the sale April 30. An attorney representing the sellers said the purchasers — The American Stock Transfer and Trust Co —have not yet decided who would manage the company.

But Graham-Field’s current chief restructuring officer, Mark Stead, said the company’s customers could expect a seamless transition under the new owners.

“The company is now working with the bond holders to ensure a smooth, seamless transition for customers and expects the bond holders to maintain a commitment to high quality products and excellent customer service,” Stead wrote in an e-mail to HME News.

Preliminary reporting indicates that Graham-Field is prepared to rehabilitate itself as Graham-Field, complete with the well-known brands that include Everest & Jennings and Lumex. The company is keeping space for Medtrade this fall.

“They’ve made recent payments, and they’re in good standing with prime real estate for the show this fall,” said Cory Smith, group show director for Medtrade.

At least one HME provider said G-F’s service, though spotty in the early days of its bankruptcy has been on track for months.

“It’s still great,” said Joel Israel, president of Best medical in Clifton, New Jersey. “They are probably now breaking even or making a couple of dollars.”

Graham-Field’s management was unavailable to answer questions for this article.

In November, G-F’s executives told HME News that its sales were running at an annual rate of about $85 million. The company employed 400. At its peak in the 1990s, Graham-Field’s sales rang in at more than $350 million annually. HME