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TLC Vision files for bankruptcy protection

TLC Vision Corp. said Monday it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States, along with two of its subsidiaries.

North America's largest eye care services company said it reached a deal with a majority of its senior secured lenders to restructure its balance sheet.

The company also is seeking recognition of its Chapter 11 filing in a case it's starting in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice under the Canadian Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

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No other company operations, affiliates or subsidiaries - including its TLC Laser Eye Centers - are involved in the filing.

TLC said clinical care for its patients continues without interruption and the filing won't affect its ongoing commitments to current employees.

Under the restructuring plan, the company will convert some of its debt into new shares of TLC Vision (USA) Corp., which will emerge as a privately held company.

As well, TLC will restructure other debt on new terms and conditions, make payments to employees and distributions to some secured and unsecured lenders.

However, the company warned "there is no assurance of any distribution of funds to the shareholders of the company under the plan."

"This proceeding will enable us to continue providing our surgeons and eye care professionals with the tools, technologies and services they need to deliver high-quality patient care," TLC chief executive officer Jim Tiffany said in a statement.

"After evaluating a number of strategic alternatives with our board of directors and advisers, we decided that restructuring our debt through court protection was the best way to preserve the value of our business."

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As part of the restructuring, the company will obtain $15-million in debtor-in-possession financing.

Meanwhile, the company has also reached a deal to sell its six refractive centres in Canada and will continue to operate under the TLC Canada name.

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