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Judge John A. Allen's decision to consolidate the cases of 11 bankrupt Triad companies into one case was a major coup for the scores of creditors of the 11 companies, including several Utah creditors.

Allen ruled Wednesday that even though the 11 companies were organized separately and operated by separate boards, the separate boards were all controlled by the board of Triad America Corp. That means the companies are one and the same entity under bankruptcy law, Allen ruled."The most significant evidence is that creditors of all entities relied principally on the financial reputations of Adnan and Essam Khashoggi and looked to them as being the principal source of payment," the judge said in his ruling.

The ruling means that local unsecured creditors of Triad Center, Salt Lake International Center and Triad Utah have a chance to recoup some of millions of dollars they lost in bad loans to the three companies.

"The Utah creditors are the ones, by and large, that will really benefit by this ruling," said Danny C. Kelly, legal counsel for Triad America Trustee R. Todd Neilson. "It was the Utah companies, such as Triad Center, Triad Utah, and Salt Lake International Center, that really had no assets left and owed a lot of money. This ruling allows those companies' creditors to participate with all other (Triad) creditors on a pro rata basis."

Without this ruling, those creditors wouldn't have gotten a thing, Kelly said. "This way, we hope they'll get a substantial distribution."

The ruling also brings Neilson one step closer to tying up his $32 million deal with Adnan and Essam Khashoggi. The Khashoggis have agreed to give Neilson $32 million in exchange for written assurances that 18 specified companies will not seek further claims against the Saudi brothers.

Neilson must have those written assurances by Oct.31, or the deal is void. Seven of the assurances were contingent upon consolidation of the bankruptcy cases. Now that the judge has consolidated the cases, the deal will probably be wrapped up by the Halloween deadline, Kelly said.

Neilson will put the $32 million in an account at Salt Lake's Key Bank for eventual distribution to Triad creditors.

Allens' ruling consolidates the bankruptcies of Triad America Corporation, Triad Energy, Triad Food and Beverage Operating Inc., Triad Properties, Triad Hotel Company, Triad Management Corporation, Salt Lake International Center, Triad Center, AK Florida Properties N.V., AK Houston Properties Inc.and Triad Utah.

"We were very pleased with the ruling," Kelly said. "This will really expedite things. It will save in the cost of administering the estate and produce a greater return for creditors."

Unsecured creditors may receive between 40 and 50 cents on the dollar, Kelly said. There are approximately $75 million in legitimate claims against the 11 bankrupt companies, Kelly said. Between $20 million and $25 million of the claims are secured and will be paid in full, leaving $50 million in unsecured claims.

Assets will not be distributed to creditors for several months, Kelly said.