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Sudbury university lagging on property sales to pay back creditors

Nineteen months after exiting CCAA, Laurentian administrators report no deals, no cash for creditors' pool

Laurentian University administrators say they’re increasing the frequency of meetings with Infrastructure Ontario as they attempt to finalize the sale of university properties so that LU can pay out its creditors.

This according to Sylvie Lafontaine, Laurentian’s vice-president, finance and administration, who spoke on the issue at the May 21 meeting of the university’s senate.

“I'll reiterate that it is at the forefront of priorities,” Lafontaine said.

It has been almost 19 months since Laurentian University exited insolvency under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), with the sale of university properties to the province forming a crucial part of its plan of arrangement.

A pool of cash of up to $53.5-million for Laurentian’s creditors is to come from the sale of university real estate to the province of Ontario, which will be rented, in some cases, back to LU. 

The minimum floor for the pool of cash has been set at $45.5 million. 

If Laurentian doesn’t fund the creditors’ distribution pool to at least that amount by Nov. 28, 2025, the university will have defaulted.

The land sales to the province were originally supposed to be completed within four years of Laurentian’s CCAA exit, but that was pushed up to three before creditors voted on the plan of arrangement in 2022.

While some information was provided by Laurentian in 2023 as to what properties the province is purchasing — confirming the campus greenspace won’t be included — that deal hasn’t been completed.

Laurentian senate member David Leeson asked about the issue during the May 21 senate meeting, in what he said is “becoming my traditional question at meetings of senate.”

In January, when previously questioned by Leeson, Lafontaine had said there was “accelerated” movement on the sale of one of seven pieces of Laurentian property to the province. However, as of yet, no announcement of any such sales has materialized.

The university’s 2024-2025 budget document said Laurentian “does expect to complete the sale of some of these assets in 2024-25.”

Lafontaine said starting next week, and running through the summer, the university will be meeting every two weeks with Infrastructure Ontario “and getting through some of the final details with respect to the agreement to purchase.” 

Some of the property being purchased by the province will have to be leased back to Laurentian, and these leases need to be worked out, she said.

There are also “some additional clauses with respect to insurance and in capital maintenance that are still under discussion,” Lafontaine said.

Laurentian’s new president, Lynn Wells, said while the meetings with Infrastructure Ontario are “sometimes challenging, we are making some progress.” 

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s assistant editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.