March 21, 2003 8:20 AM PST

Sonicblue seeks bankruptcy protection

Hardware maker Sonicblue has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and intends to sell its ReplayTV digital recorder and Rio MP3 player businesses.

The bankruptcy notice, filed Friday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Jose, Calif., is intended to let Sonicblue continue operations long enough to sell its main subsidiaries. The company plans to complete those sales by April and then to open the bidding for its remaining assets.

"In the end, we and our financial advisers have concluded that the best outcome for our creditors and our employees is to sell our businesses to better-heeled owners," Gregory Ballard, Sonicblue's CEO, said in a statement.

So far, Sonicblue has signed nonbinding letters of intent with Japanese consumer electronics companies D&M Holdings and Marantz Japan to sell its ReplayTV and Rio subsidiaries for $40 million. The company also has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its GoVideo business to Opta Systems for $12.5 million.

Sonicblue has retained Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin Capital as its financial adviser and Pillsbury Winthrop as its legal counsel.

The bankruptcy filing caps an unsuccessful attempt by Sonicblue to find potential buyers or investors to reduce its debt. The company has been fighting a lawsuit by the entertainment industry over technology in its ReplayTV device that lets people skip commercials.

Sonicblue recently settled a patent suit with TiVo, its digital recording device rival.


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