I'm told Bill Jones III, the chairman and CEO of Sea Island Co., has stood before locals, staff and members four times this year, making relevant announcements and opening up the room to a Q&A. Although there's a pocket of protestors to what and how Jones did his business, the meetings have been civil. Jones and the Jones family, after all, made Sea Island. Even his harshest critics will admit, there's not a local business, junior sports program, hospital, church or charity that hasn't benefited in some way from three generations of Jones rule. And in the end, when this bankruptcy cloud settles, no one will have lost more than Bill Jones (which isn't to say I'm worried about his financial future).
More on a recent lunch with Jones tomorrow, but here's the latest update from Jones on the sale/auction, which will take place on Oct. 11, in Atlanta:
October 4, 2010
Dear Sea Island Club Member,
Most of you know that today, October 4, was the deadline for bids to be received from prospective buyers of Sea Island Company. Any bid received today would have been in addition to the one received from Sea Island Acquisition, the partnership formed by Oaktree Capital and Avenue Capital. We did, as expected, receive what is known as an initial overbid from a group called Starwood Capital Group Global LP and The Anschutz Corporation. (Keep in mind that Starwood Capital Group is a private equity firm and is not the Starwood hotel company. You may recall that this group earlier submitted a bid to the court, but the judge denied the request.) The bid we received today from the Starwood Capital/Anschutz group means that we will have an auction next Monday, October 11, involving both bidders.
We support a competitive auction process, because we see the interest of an additional bidder as testimony to the reputation and current business strength of Sea Island Company.
It is important to remember that the protections we negotiated in the original offer remain the same, even with this competitive bid. This includes the fact that Sea Island Club and Ocean Forest Club membership deposits will be honored, the clubs will be preserved, all employees will be allowed to retain their jobs and benefits, pensions will remain protected, and our vendors will receive 100 cents on every dollar owed at the conclusion of the sale - regardless of the outcome of the auction.
I understand that this process has required great understanding and patience on your part, and I appreciate the support and continuing conversation that many of you have brought to the table. I know you look forward to having further clarity about the entire process, which next week's auction and our upcoming mailing about the membership plan should provide.
We will, as always, keep you informed as this process continues.Sincerely, Bill Jones IIIChairman and CEOSea Island Company
(Photograph by Getty Images.)