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U.S. Home emerges from bankruptcy protection

U.S. Home Corp., which has built thousands of homes in the Tampa Bay area, emerged from bankruptcy court protection Monday with new financing and high hopes.

The Dallas-based company paid off $297-million owed to unsecured creditors by giving them stock representing majority ownership of the company plus $165-million in cash. The money came from the sale of $200-million worth of 9.75 percent 10-year notes.

The creditors will receive up to 5-million new shares of common stock and 2.9-million shares of new convertible redeemable preferred stock, representing 69 percent of the company.

Existing shareholders will see their stake in the company dwindle as a result of the deal, which includes a reverse stock split giving them 3.5-million shares of new common stock and warrants to buy 1.9-million additional shares for the 45.3-million shares they now own. After the split, a shareholder who now owns 1,000 shares will own 77 shares plus warrants to buy 42 additional shares at $20 apiece any time during the next five years. The existing shares recently have sold for about $2 a share.

U.S. Home, which once had its headquarters in Clearwater, filed for bankruptcy court protection in April 1991, when it failed in efforts to renegotiate its bank debt. Since then it has restructured its operations as well as its debt and has returned to profitability.

Company officials said new orders are up 18 percent for the first five months of this year, and they believe the company is in a strong position for the future.

Florida is U.S. Home's largest market. Its Tampa Bay area projects include Crescent Oaks in Pinellas County, Hunter's Green in Hillsborough County, Heritage Lake in Pasco County and Timber Pines in Hernando County.

As part of the plan, the company named six new directors to its board. Only two of the 11 board members are U.S. Home employees and five list their occupations as "private investors."