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Epixtar Corp., a Florida-based company that provides call center and Internet services to customers nationwide, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors. Michael D. Seese, the company’s bankruptcy attorney, said the decision to file was not based on new federal bankruptcy rules that take effect on Oct. 17, but on the maturation of a $14.2 million loan due this Friday to Laurus Master Fund of New York. Epixtar, a public company traded over the counter, employs some 1,600 people — 1,000 of them in a handful of inbound and outbound call centers in the Philippines. A thinly traded penny stock, Epixtar shares stood at 12 cents Monday with no buyers or sellers. Over the last year, the shares ranged from a low of 8 cents to a high of $1.24. Epixtar operates eight subsidiaries that also were placed under Chapter 11 protection late last week. They include Voxx Corp., Ameripages Inc. and National Online Services. The parent company, headquartered at 11900 Biscayne Blvd. in the city of North Miami, listed more than $6.3 million in assets and more than $17.4 million in liabilities. Epixtar’s looming debt and the rapid expansion of its overseas facilities led to the company’s decision to file for protection, Seese said. “It appears that there was too much of an expansion undertaken and the level of business necessary to support it has not, to date, materialized,” said Seese, an attorney at Kluger Peretz Kaplan & Berlin in Miami. “Therefore, we need to cut back on that overhead to support the existing business.” He said the company would continue to operate under court supervision. Epixtar began in 1994, functioning solely as an Internet service provider. But in 2004, it decided to branch out into call center operations for business customers. The ISP branch of its operations has not been dissolved, Seese said, but is being maintained at its current size and not being actively marketed. In its latest quarterly report, filed in late August, the company expressed optimism that its overseas investment would eventually become profitable. “Notwithstanding the company’s recent history of significant, recurring losses from operations, management continues to believe that the decision to get into the business of offshore call center operation was a sound one and that, when fully implemented and properly operated, will enable the company to successfully execute its long-term business plan and enable it realize attractive returns for its investors,” the report says. “However, management can provide no assurance that it will be able to execute its long range business plan.” “It just needs to be implemented properly,” Seese said, “and unfortunately it feels like there was too much, too fast.” Seese said he and his client are confident the company can assemble a reorganization plan; strategies to reduce costs have already been put in place. Seese said those plans are already saving the company some $800,000 a month. The case has been assigned to Senior U.S. Bankruptcy Judge A. Jay Cristol in Miami.

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